How to Turn “Turkey Day” Back Into “Thanksgiving”

The 12 Days of Thanksgiving printable


As a holiday, Thanksgiving seems to become less and less visible each year. Between the marketing that focuses completely on The Food, and getting smashed in the middle of Christmas and what-has-now-become-the-Halloween-season, Thanksgiving has, by default, really just become the front runner for Black Friday.

We could argue about who is to blame for this, but rather than waste our time wading into that negativity, we can instead just choose to be more intentional about how and why we celebrate on that day.

On that note, I have something special to share with you today, that is dear to my heart. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition my family started, several years back, and which my husband and I will be continuing in our own household. This year, we’re getting to enjoy sharing it with both sides of our family…and with you, if you so choose!

We call it The 12 Days of Thanksgiving. Beginning 12 days prior to the holiday (or 13, if you like a buffer day, like me), we begin a list of things for which we are grateful.

On Day 1, we list 1 item.

On Day 2, we write down 2.

Day 3, 3 things.

Etc.The 12 Days of Thanksgiving + printable

By the time we hit Day 12, and have written down 12 things, we each have a whopping 78 items for which we are thankful! There are big things, little things, sweet-memories-kinds-of-things. Then, the really fun part – reading them out loud together as a family. We generally share our lists after Thanksgiving Dinner, and let me tell you, this has become the highlight of our Thanksgiving Day.

I LOVE this tradition, for several reasons. It brings a spirit of thankfulness to the forefront of our celebration, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but for nearly two weeks prior to the actual holiday itself. In order to amass a list  of 78 distinct items that conjure up gratitude in your heart, you have to go beyond the typical family, friends, and food list. You have to truly spend some time thinking about all the abundance in your life. And, that will humble you, as well as multiply the gratitude. It turns Thanksgiving into more than a day – it becomes a season, and one which, hopefully, becomes a habit.

Making these lists adds a real depth and richness to our holiday – instead of just feasting and then falling into the Black Friday ads, we get to truly take some time to pause, and be intentionally grateful. As we read our lists out loud to each other, it brings to mind dozens of events, people, and blessings that we have known, and reveals to us just how much we really have. It’s a literal recap of God’s goodness throughout the year.


Now maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “You know, it sounds like a good idea, but it’s just not for us. We’ll all be at Aunt Stacie’s, all day on Thanksgiving, and there will be 25 people there…it’s crazy, and it’s just not going to work.” This tradition is flexible! For instance, if you have a very large group and don’t exactly have a full six hours to spend reading lists together, then you can simplify – each person can choose just 12 things to read aloud. Or ten, or twenty. Whatever! Make it your own, and make it work for your situation.

And, even if you don’t feel that sharing your list with others is a possibility, I absolutely encourage you to do it on your own, just for you. Just because you’re not going to read your thankfulness list aloud with a group does not mean you can’t keep one! In fact, that’s how this tradition was spawned in the first place…by keeping a personal gratitude journal. One of the beautiful aspects of a project like this is that you will have a physical, written record…something you can go back to, throughout the coming year, and read through. It will probably be impossible to NOT be encouraged.

The 12 Days of Thanksgiving printable


I usually use one of many notebooks around my home to record my list. BUT, if you prefer dedicated space, I have created a FREE printable for you to use! It has each a space for each day, plus the right number of lines for that day’s gratitude list. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy! Now you won’t get lost wondering how many you’ve already written, and how many you’re supposed to do today…and, oh yeah, what day AM I on? {Happens often in a traditional notebook…ask me how I know….} Aaaaand, it’s undated. Meaning, you can use it Every. Single. Year. No adjustments needed. Enter your info below to grab it!

The 12 Days of Thanksgiving printable




9 Things I Love About My Little Home

little house with green door

little house with green door

Our little family has lived in a little travel trailer for just over a year now. Our accommodations consist of a bedroom–approximately big enough for a bed, though being able to walk around its perimeter is a test in balancing skills–a bathroom, and a combination kitchen-dining-nursery-living room, all in about 300 square feet. It’s been both challenging and educational. For a long while now, I’ve been contemplating writing up a list of things that I have enjoyed about our tiny turf, and now I’m finally getting around to it. It’s good for me to find specific ways to be thankful for the less-than-ideal parts of life, you know? Plus, perhaps it would encourage others of you who reside in small dwellings to join me in counting the blessings.

So, here are 9 things, some big, some little, that I feel privileged to experience by living in our little home.

  • Ease of quick heating & cooling 

When we wake up in the morning, and things feel a bit chilly, it takes just a wee bit o’ time to warm the rooms up! On the flip side, during the brutal Georgia summer heat, even after the trailer had been sitting in the blazing sun all day with no air running, we could make things comfortable with just 20 or 30 minutes of cooling. Very convenient!

  • Everything in arm’s reach

Speaking of convenience, this is one thing I think I’ll miss a bit when we move. I really don’t have to take more than 2.7 seconds to get something from ANY corner of our abode. And while cooking, things are soooo easy to grab. Makes whipping up breakfast and supper very streamlined. I won’t lie and say easy, because there is that finding-enough-counter-space-to-do-it-all part, but still, I really enjoy having my pantry, fridge, pots, and sink all in such close proximity to one another.

  • Speedy housecleaning

Not much needs to be said, here. With less space, and everything so close together, vacuuming floors and cleaning the bathroom doesn’t take long at all!

  • Paring down on purchasing

I have had to be extremely choosy about what I bring into the house, be it from a favorite thrift shop, or my parents’ garage–where 90% of all my wedding gifts currently reside in boxes. {Seriously, getting to upsize is going to be like Christmas, times twenty!!} Smaller living space means I can’t just have tons of cute stuff hanging around everywhere, and so I have said ‘no’ to many items, and gone without. But the good news is I have had to really nail down my own personal style by being so deliberate. A few things here and there that I consider beautiful and meaningful, and that’s it. It’s made me more appreciative of household beauty in general, I think.    

Right alongside household decor, it’s been necessary to be particular about clothing, kitchen wares, toys for the Jungle Boy, even food. And, I don’t consider any of that a bad thing at all! It’s been great to actually consider carefully what is truly necessary, and what is simply a convenience.

  • Being forced to deal with clutter on a daily basis

If I go a single day without doing a “swoop” {my term for a quick tidy-up}…you can tell. In fact, if I go two days, or even just leave a project unfinished, I begin to find it difficult to breathe. Literally! I have learned that clutter is a real point of stress for me, and being surrounded by unmanaged clutter makes me feel cranky, irritable, and a little like I’m suffocating. So, I take the time to sort through mail and paperwork, tossing all I can, and putting it in a designated “to-file” space. I keep the clothes where they belong, whether it’s in the laundry basket, hung up, or in the drawer. I make the time to get the dishes washed and the counters cleared. It keeps me sane.

This sometimes seems like extra work, but in reality it would still have to be done…I’m actually just being more proactive about it. And, I’ve found, this makes life easier in the long run. We house-sat for my parents recently, and I realized just how difficult extra space can actually be, when I was packing up to come back to our camper. It took me several hours to collect all the things we had spread around the house! I had not kept our belongings very organized…because I had not HAD to. Small space requires organization to survive {for me, at least}, and this a good thing.   

  • Less attachment to material things

I hope that this is true–I suppose time will tell. But going without certain things, as I mentioned above, has somewhat lessened my grasp on possessions. I’ve really seen how much we miss when we get stuck focusing on All The Stuff, and it has made me want to not get caught in that trap in the future.

  • More creativity

Because I don’t always have everything I’m used to using for housework, cooking, organization, etc., I’ve gotten a bit creative at times with what I use to get a job done. At one point, I was storing our fruit in a crock pot that we weren’t using. We don’t watch TV, so the big flat screen built into one of the cabinets became my bulletin board, where I taped up cards and calendars. At times, my kitchen counter has looked like a giant game of Jenga, as I strategically placed cooking items in precarious positions, so I could move on to the next step of the recipe. {By the way, when you run out of room on the counter, did you realize that the floor can easily provide extra space for ingredients, mixing bowls, etc.? Novel idea, right?} It gets pretty fun, at times, as I play a game of beat-the-box-mentality. For some people, this is just second-nature; they do it all the time! But for us type-A, boxy people, it’s a challenge, and it’s good for us.

  • Appreciation for how people around the world live

I’ve traveled to two different third-world countries, and seen the lifestyles of the general population there. It has made me pause, at times, when a complaint about my living space was on the tip of my tongue. Living in 300 square feet with only three people isn’t all that difficult for most of the globe, actually. {Hint: they go outside a lot more than we do!} Camper life has reminded me of these nations, and it is a good taste of what millions the world over experience daily space-wise. I still have much, much more wealth and convenience than most do, and I have been able to be a lot more thankful when reflecting on this.

African children in front of mudblock house

In addition, it’s very typical in other countries for whole families to live in space not much larger than ours. This chart illustrates that. And it’s not just third world countries, either. On average, families in the U.K., China, Sweden, Italy, and Russia all live in under 1,000 square feet of space.

  • Preparation for the future

When my husband and I got married, we were planning and preparing to be missionaries to pioneer fields. The immediate plans changed, but we still have hopes that that may be God’s intention for us in the future…and maybe this year of living in a travel trailer has some part to play in that plan. I guess we’ll see!

In addition, learning to live with less, to think outside the box, and to value everything that we’ve been blessed with now, can’t hurt no matter WHAT lies in store!


Do you have a small-ish home? What are some ways you enjoy getting creative in your little house? Things you are thankful for? Share them below!

The Bible Project – Resource

bible project

bible project

I wanted to share with you a fantastic teaching/learning resource that I just found. It’s a series of videos available on a YouTube channel called The Bible Project. This team has created several different series of videos, all with one thing in mind: everything in the Bible points to Jesus.

They have produced a “Read Through the Bible” series that combines excellent illustrations with a voiceover of all that is taking place in the section of Scripture being covered. This series goes book by book, and what I really appreciate is the fact that their goal is to prepare you to actually read the book for yourself.

The videos are quality stuff. The illustrations are detailed, but not distracting. The narration is simple, yet thorough, and doesn’t skip the “hard stuff.” For instance, the whole “sons of God” debate about the opening verses of Genesis 6? They deal with it, acknowledging that there are different beliefs about it, and giving a couple options. It’s also perfectly appropriate for the entire family.

And, besides being a fantastic refresher + overview of whatever book being discussed, there’s always the possibility of learning something new! For me, when watching the video on Genesis, Part 1, I was introduced to a thought I’d never considered regarding Adam and Eve’s sudden compulsion to cover up after disobeying God’s command about taking the fruit. Being unclothed with one’s spouse is one of the most vulnerable and trusting places to be in.They had just chosen to distrust God; how could they possibly still trust each other? Perhaps this was part of their desperate desire to clothe themselves.

I haven’t seen all the videos in this series yet, but if things continue as they have begun, I will definitely be adding this to my arsenal of Bible teaching tools.

Here’s the first video in this series.

The Bible Project also has several animated series on the different divisions of the Bible. I watched one of the videos at random–Ecclesiastes, in the Wisdom series. Ecclesiastes is no picnic. I figured, if they do this one well, they’ve got something. I was not disappointed. They explained the big picture concepts of the book, identified the different speakers, delved into the original language, used great visual artistry, and did it all without being overwhelming. In less than six minutes. Yeah. Like I said, pretty impressive!

You can check out that video here.


Their channel also has other videos of behind-the-scenes work, Q&A sessions, and animations explaining different Biblical themes, like atonement and the image of God. Overall, I’m pretty excited about this resource and looking forward to using it in our family in the future.

On the Bible Project website, they also have a reading plan and a podcast. Check it out!


{Ahem. Just a couple of notes that I feel are necessary. First, I have not investigated the theology held by the producers of these videos, but the content speaks for itself. Perhaps there are things we would disagree on, but I’m simply using the tools they’re providing–not joining a church. Secondly, I would never want anyone to even get the faintest inkling that these videos could or should substitute for solid personal Bible reading and study. Just like anything else, they are a supplement, not a replacement. Hope you enjoy!}

Minimalism, Cozy Style.

cozy cup of tea next to open book

So apparently there’s this thing called “cozy minimalism” that is being talked about in the blogosphere.

cup of tea with a book cozy reading


I had never heard of it until I ran across a post on said subject. I quickly realized that yes, this was my category. (Woohoo, now people can label me and put me in a definitive box! Yippee!)

When many people hear the word “minimalism”, they conjure up pictures of asceticism in their heads. But the term “minimalism” actually has several different cultural definitions. Technically, minimalism refers to an art form that focuses on simplicity. But there’s a growing school of thought that has developed in our society as a kick-back against materialism, and it has nothing to do with art. In the words of these guys, who are actually known as The Minimalists,

“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.” 

However, minimalism is also sometimes hijacked by home-department marketing professionals, and translated “make everything in your bedroom one color.” Which actually means, “buy more stuff!” So, definitions matter here! In this post, I’m not talking about the style of art, but more the anti-materialistic ideology.

I have always thought, when I read about minimalism, that the basic idea undergirding it appealed to me (more of life, less of stuff, simplicity, etc.). And I hate clutter. My husband can tell you that I’m sort of a paper-nazi…if it’s not connected to the spine of a notebook, or in a file folder, I want it in the trash. So I guess in some senses, I’m a good candidate for the minimalism label.

However, often the design inspired by minimalism does not appeal to me. I like clean lines, white space, and occasional monochromatic color schemes. In moderation. But I also like bookcases crammed with good books, mismatched and colorful coffee mugs to spare, and plenty of warmth. I like my space to say “organized,” yes, but also “we live here, thank you.” And so many of the rooms with minimalist decor seem so…soul-less.


But then, “cozy” minimalism was introduced to me. You can read what I read HERE. The author seemed to put into words exactly what I had never taken the time to…that yes, I like part of the minimalist take on life, but I’ll never be a true minimalist in the styling of my home. And guess what–there is an alternative. And it has a name!

Enter, cozy minimalism.

The term itself is fairly self-explanatory: cozy means warm and inviting. Minimal means the only bare essentials. So it’s a balancing act of deciding what gives your house a homey feel, while still filtering with a “what do we need/use” mindset.

What I like about this concept is that it takes the basic values of minimalism ideology–making space in life for what really matters by deliberately choosing to not become overwhelmed by stuff–and weds it with the reality of where most of us live: “I have two very similar tote bags…but I use both…and I want to keep both.” Comfort, without clutter, is how I like to look at it. I can still keep all my candles (that are actually all from the same color and scent families), but I’ll choose to pare down my sock drawer, because I don’t need/like/want all the socks I own.

My home can still be fresh and relatively clutter-free, but not forced into specific parameters about how many of these or those I own. It’s about choosing things that are functional and practical, but also bring some beauty or joy to this One Little Life, whether or not there’s a bit of redundancy. I choose what we like and what makes our home US, without trying to fit it into a specific mold. 

And so, that’s why I now consider myself a “cozy minimalist.” 

So what’s your opinion? How do you classify your Castle-style? Cluttered and eclectic, like Aunt Matilda’s parlor? Bare and austere, like Uncle Lou’s big city loft? Or somewhere in the middle, in the “cozy” sector? What fits you and your family best, and why?