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Giving Thanks with a Grateful Heart.

A Mother

My head can be a little like Fort Knox. I love to laugh and have fun and make great memories, but deep down, behind the scenes, I’m planning for anything that could possibly go wrong.

If you’ve ever been anywhere around water with our family, then you know it’s true. It’s the same in crowded places. It’s all fun and games until I can’t spot one of my kids, then I go bonkers in 2.3 seconds. It borders on absolute crazy.

I thought it would get better once they weren’t newborns. Then, I thought it would get better when they weren’t toddlers. Fourteen years into this, I’m beginning to realize that it’s just part of parenting. It’s the great tug of war…daily surrendering them back to God, who is sovereign over everything they’ll ever encounter.

I promise that nothing in my life has made me as vulnerable as mothering. I don’t have the power to always fix, always protect and always keep from harm.

They get sick. They get heartbroken. They get to be the bud of a joke. Or worse.

I’m always grateful to be a mother, but today my heart feels like it might burst with thankfulness.

God is dealing with all the reasons my head is Fort Knox. He’s healing those inner-most parts that have been afraid to trust him, no matter what unfolds in their stories. He’s being so gracious and patient with me, as I release my grip on them

It feels good to cast all my cares on him and know that he cares for me and for them.

What is parenting teaching you? What are you thankful for today?

Kerrie - I understand. I have been there. Now that my children are all young adults in careers and college I finally feel free from all worry for them. Though I went through some serious testing in entrusting them completely to God when my oldest was a teen and ran away from home for an entire summer. That was a heart wrenching time. But God is faithful and loves him more than I ever could. My son grew closer to the Lord through that season and is such a calm, peaceful soul now. His love is jealeous for us…for the whole world. xxo

Kim-in-the-Cove - I think every mother wrestles with this. Deep in our hearts, we aren’t ready to release our children to God’s care, just in case He’s too busy to ‘really’ watch them — or worse, He is watching them but allows something to happen anyway and wants us to find comfort in His peace with whatever the fallout may be. I don’t have that kind of faith – but who does? But as you say, God is patient with us. He knows our hearts. He loves us. He loves our children. And He walks with us as we find our way through this and all the other challenges of motherhood. :)

I really enjoy your blog, btw.

Shannon @Lady's Little Loves - Parenting is teaching me absolute patience when I think I have none left. It is teaching me to prioritize my time, to try my best at giving my wee ones everything they need, and how to be a better version of myself.

Lori H - i am so with you on this! It is a little bit easier for me now that they are in college, because I don’t know everything they are doing, but let one of them call and have a problem (“Mom, I am having a lot of jaw pain all of a sudden”) and they are THERE and I am HERE and I am in a panic (jaw cancer? stress so bad that they grind their teeth? wisdom teeth?). So hard to let go and let God. I figure He knows that mamas are like that and He hopes we will trust Him :)

Bohemian Valhalla - I’ve been consecutively Parenting little ones for well over thirty years now and it has taught me so much, especially about myself! You are absolutely right though, as a Parent you never stop Parenting just because they’re grown. We’re custodial G-Parents of two of our G-Kids and I do find that at this more ‘mature’ season of life my Parenting is much more relaxed and I don’t sweat the small stuff or what’s not permanent. Cute Story though… a Friend of mine is in her late Seventies and her Mom is in her Nineties… and one day I was talking to her Mom and she was telling me how ‘worried’ she was about her Daughter… so see, it never really diminishes with mere Age, they’re ALWAYS our Babies after all! *Winks*

And in answer to the 2nd part of your question, I’m Thankful FOR TODAY! Old Age is a privilege not afforded to many, so each day on this side of Time and Eternity is something I’m Thankful for! I’m Blessed to have been a Parent, a Grandparent and a Great-Grandparent already in my Lifetime, that is MUCH to be Thankful for!

Merry Christmas from the Arizona Desert… Dawn… The Bohemian

Sally - Amen and amen. I get this. After about 18 years of parenting, I finally learned to let go and let God (most days). But still, every day, I have to remind myself that as much as I love my kids and think I know what’s good for them, God loves them more, and knows what’s BEST for them. You are not alone, my friend. xo Merry Christmas! ~Sally @DrinkingFromMySaucer

Lisa - Beautiful words. I feel like my biggest challenge right now is protecting them from me. My quickness of temper or annoyance. I am always so afraid I am squelching their little dreams or desires. Trying to pick the, saying no because it is easier for me or saying yes, battle. Am I a good balance of discipline and love? Always wondering and wishing and praying for this.

LLH Designs - I can’t stop staring at that amazing photo of your children on the back of an old pickup truck long enough to give serious thought to your good words. Goodness…I’m in love with that photo! xo!

Becky @Farmgirl Paints - I feel like Lisa above. I’m searching for the balance. Tired and irritable a lot lately. Not much left over. Parenting is teaching me that I’m just not enough on my own. Plain and simple.

jodi - what a great post and a sweet picture of the kiddos!
I know how you feel, I can’t tell you it ever gets easier…my daughter is now 16, behind the wheel and also sporting a boyfriend! My worries and concerns have changed channels so many times as she has grown…from, don’t let her run, she’ll fall and hurt herself, to I hope she makes friends when she goes to school, I hope she makes the right decisions and please god let her get home safe on the bad roads!
I am just glad i am not the only one dealing with this!
Take care and Merry Christmas! :)

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Girl I am the exact same way. I keep getting that same verse thrown at me lately- the cast your cares on Him one… I even remember being a little girl and I had a tape called Psalty the singing Psalm book… it had a story on it with songs and such, and the theme was trusting God with all your cares. I always remember that little tape and the song too whenever I read the verse. I know there are a million deep reasons I freak out and wait for the other shoe to drop… part of me thinks I will always be like that… Oh man I wish we were chewing on this topic over coffee. I laugh too at the calm until I can’t spot one and then I freak out part… GiRl! That is so ME!

Just makes me love ya even more.

Brandy - I love this picture. You have some beautiful children. My girls ages almost 13 and 15 are teaching me to appreciate their independence. I love that they are becoming their own people. We may not always agree but I am glad to see they have the courage to defend their views. I am thankful that even though teenagers can be challenging, my girls are good girls with a strong sense of faith. I love being their Mama! Thanks for making me think about this today!

Shonda Barbour - I can totally understand where you’re coming from. I can still remember the days when my daughter was at home. I often felt like I was flying a kite, letting the string out a little at a time, then all of a sudden I would get this crazy urge to yank on the string and bring the kite back home. All because of fears from our enemy! So many times I had to run to God for my help and peace. He was and is faithful! My daughter is no longer at home, but happily married and living for God. God bless you & your sweet family!

Kathy - Great picture! Really wonderful. I am learning to trust, just as you are so very good at describing. My oldest son is in college. Away most of the year. And we have two sons in high school. I am deeply grateful to be their mother. Mothering has been a tremendously humbling experience. To be able to so personally bear witness to the glorious miracle of life and to so vividly see the need for grace in my life, is a treasure. It certainly has been a journey. I have learned much! By the way, I have a Seth and Luke, too! With a Mark in the middle.


Friday Favorites

friday favorites-between you and me

Edie’s pulled off a texas, preppy, anthropologied Christmas tour. I am in love with her “Hold Your Horses” print from Stephanie Creekmur’s Etsy shop.

friday favorites-between you and me

Her heart spills out into her home, and I love it.

Friday Favorites-between you and me

I love pretty much every little detail.

Friday Favorites-between you and me

My dear friend Jackie is in the middle of chemo treatments…her heart is weary but rejoicing.  She inspires me on every level.  Her home is a picture of her heart.  I wish you could visit with her in real life, like I’m privileged to get to do.

Friday Favorites-between you and me

This might just be a January project for me and the kids…making snowflakes for one of our walls.  It most likely will be the only chance we’ll get to see snowflakes!

Friday Favorites-between you and me

FPFG rocked her graffiti tree.  Go see her whole house and read her whole heart.

Friday Favorites-between you and me

I loooove what Nester is doing in her new home.


Good read on parenting.

Carve your heart on hearts…not tombstones. Yes. Excellent read.

I want to be a “there you are” kind of woman.

I want to practice more patience with people…bear with them in their burdens.

Happy Weekend!

Becky @Farmgirl Paints - My favorite is the simplicity of the snowflake wall. Sweetness overload.

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Awww you gathered up some of my favorites here too!! Seriously that Edie know’s what she’s doing doesn’t she? Total blog crush here. And thank you for including my wee little home in there. What a fun surprise- totally made me smile BIG. I’ve got to relax today and enjoy catching up on a few of these that I’ve missed.
It’s FRIDAY!! Whoohoo!

tiffini - i enjoyed this! that snowflake wall…wow!
i read shannon’s post and cracked usual;)
and i seriously LOVE that yarn wreath..i must go see if she has a tutorial. well so that i can add it to my TO DO list
happy weekend…xo

paige - love these homes & love these women!

Jackie - I do love that snowflake wall…I’m itching to do that, too, if I can quit making pompoms. Thank you for including my little home with such big company–love all those ladies and their hearts. LOVE yours, too, my dear. :)

Lori H - You have picked some of my favorites and some I had not seen yet. Seriously, this time of year is CHOCK-FULL of goodness, it’s almost overwhelming! Responding to your last email later today as I can finally relax and breathe :)

Lori H - P.S. I can’t decide between the Hold Your Horses or the Hey Y’all! Dithering…

LLH Designs - I haven’t felt inspired to do more than the basics this Christmas, but it sure is fun to see the creativity that Christmas inspires in others. xo!

Allison - I showed my kids the snowflake wall and they are snipping away. Thank you as well so for sharing our post on 2 types of folks. Much appreciated my friend. Blessings this Christmas!

Flower Patch Farmgirl - You are so dang good to me.
And now I want to sit the kids down and force them to make me 200 paper snowflakes. Would that be wrong??


Gussied up Gift Wrap.

True Confession: I have never had more fun wrapping gifts than I have this year!

It all started with that knockoff anthropologie pom-pom wreath that I made a couple of months ago.
Once I started making them, I couldn’t stop, so I made some more and some more and some more.
What do you do when you have pom-poms under every nook and cranny?
You make them into a garland for your tree, you make a wreath for a friend, and you gussy up your gift wrap!

Gussied up gift wrap-between you & me

Add gifts to a large basket next to your tree-between you & me

Pom-Poms on the tree and on your gift wrap-between you & me

The only thing you need for your gift wrap other than pom-poms is Christmas washi-tape!
I got mine from Michael’s a few weeks ago, when it was all marked down 50%.
The brown craft paper that I wrapped all of our gifts in also came from Michael’s. {be sure to use a 40% coupon!!}

This was a super simple way to add some Christmas cheer to our house.
How do you wrap your gifts? Do you wrap ALL your gifts or do you put out some unwrapped gifts on Christmas morning?
I’ve tried a little bit of everything, but for the past several years we wrap everything.
My kids love tearing into their gifts on Christmas morning!

If you need more gift wrap inspiration, visit her, her and her.

Lori H - Your packages are adorable! I have to confess that I have not wrapped one thing yet! This is the busiest week of my life (and yet I am reading some blogs, can you say stalling?) and once I get past Sunday I can breathe…and wrap :)

Barbara - Cute I need to get me some of that thing you call washi tape! Love your posts!

Dayle - Lovely new space here, Tarah. I’m so far behind, I didn’t know you had a new blog address. I hope your transition was smoother than mine, not so long ago. I didn’t change platforms, but I changed the URL. It was a real pain there for awhile.

Anyway, everything looks great. Hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas season.

Jackie - I, too, have been bitten by the pompom bug. I ended up making a garland for our tree and have been adding them to some of the gifts I have wrapped so far. And I love using craft paper! That’s been my go to for years…works for every occasion. :)

paige - sweet friend xoxo

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh my gosh right? I am the same with these pom poms. I think they have created a pom pom monster inside me. LOL I LOVE to wrap presents. Gift giving is my favorite thing and I have learned that it is also my love language. Which has made me a bit miffed with God that my love language would also coincide with three of the BROKEST years of my life. Though my man laughs and says that people with the love language “gifts” are probably always broke. Haha. Cracked me up.

Now I am typing and I look over to my right and see all of these instagrams that I have somehow missed. Does your feed ever get so full that you MISS some of your favorite peeps? I don’t like that much!! So at some point today I will be like-bombing all your instagrams. Just be warned.

Happy Thursday girly!

tiffini - i have YET to make a pom pom. i have it on my to do list but there isn’t enough time in my day…not even to do for a post…ha!
this year has been a season of priority..of slowing down. of not being able to do it all…and that goes for blogging too.
i get frustrated but i also know that He knows best for me
but i LOVE pom poms. they rock:)
we wrap all our gifts. the kids are all grown .. almost:) so christmas is changing. with the grandkids and all. i don’t feel like a grandma yet. they are in FL so we are celebrating when they visit the first part of january.
PLUS..with teens and older you get one electronic and you’ve spent 500 dollars…lol right? i love kraft paper and newspaper…my two favorite. love you girl…:)

Pamela - I love that picture above your fireplace! :)


Twenty-Five Acts of Random Kindness.

A few years ago, I bought one of those small houses with 25 tiny doors in it for Advent. I think I picked it up from Target. I put a slip of paper behind all 25 little doors that surprised the kids with various things they loved…slurpies, a family movie night, a cupcake run, driving through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights, etc.   It was my way of counting down to Christmas with them, in hopes that they would have a certain level of contemplation about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Yeah. That didn’t happen. It felt more like we were feeding some greedy monster in each of them. Instead, they just looked forward to their daily treat. And why wouldn’t they? We made it almost impossible for them to contemplate the coming of Christ and what that meant for us for all eternity. They’re great kids, but they’re human. I didn’t blame them. I blamed us.

It was one of those times in parenting when we stepped back after it all sort of blew up in our faces and wondered why in the world we ever thought giving our kids treats everyday would somehow ready their hearts for advent.

Needless to say, I packed up the little house with 25 doors that year, explained to the kids why it wouldn’t become a Christmas tradition for our family, and humbly apologized to them for ever thinking it was a great idea.  Parenting is one teachable moment after another for me.

I was determined that we’d just count down to Christmas on our calendars, until I saw an idea on Pinterest that I knew I had to try! I had all the supplies I needed, accept for the tiny brown bags, which I picked up from Michael’s.  At first, I was just going to let it be a countdown calendar, but then I was talking to my friend Julie about one of their family traditions, and I decided to adopt it for us this year.

I sat down with the kids and made a list of 25 acts of random kindness that we could use to serve others with this month.
It was so much fun coming up with really easy, doable ways to daily serve.

I thought I

I thought I’d share our ideas with you, in case you’d like to do something similar.
1. Deliver sweets to neighbors.
2. Put quarters in gum ball machines at Publix.
3. Visit nursing home with flowers.
4. Babysit for Blake and Laura.
5. Give blankets to the homeless.
6. Deposit coins in some parking meters downtown.
7. Let someone a head in line.
8. Deposit money in vending machines at school.
9. Bake goodies for Athens Church staff.
10. Hold door open for someone.
11. Give change to Salvation Army.
12. Deliver sweets to fire station.
13. Pay for someone’s library fines.
14. Pay for someone’s coffee.
15. Host friends for dinner.
16. Take meal to a family.
17. Serve at local soup kitchen.
18. Deliver sweets to police station.
19. Give Jittery Joes gift card to mailman.
20. Give thank you note to our garbage collectors.
21. Return shopping carts.
22. Donate used clothing.
23. Donate used books to library.
24. Give your siblings a gift.
25. Over Tip our waitress at Waffle House.

So, what are some of the Christmas traditions in your family? I’m wondering if we’ll do this one again, or if we’ll just come up with a few of our favorites from this list to make into a tradition. I’ll keep you posted!

oh! Don’t forget to link up YOUR house in Jenn Rizzo’s 3rd annual linky party!


Linda Jo - Great presentation. Love the prompts. I just shared it on FB and on my Pinterest!

Maureen - What a wonderful idea! Our girls (who are now 23 and 25 and still at home), have always had the traditional chocolate “advent” calender, but I just love this idea! I know they will too! Thank you for sharing :)

Lori H - I always bought the religious advent calendars instead of the Lego ones, or the chocolate ones and felt like I was doing it right. Now that my kids are in college, my husband and I are reading a series of Scriptures that I found on Pinterest, one set each day. But this is my favorite idea, Tara! Parenting also seems to be moments of wishing you could do certain things over once your kids are bigger. Sigh. Anyway, I am going to figure a way to work this into our advent season next year.Maybe we can make the list as a family, then my husband and I can do the acts of kindness until the kids get home for college break and join us…Looking forward to hearing how this goes for you.

Becky @Farmgirl Paints - This is wonderful Tara. You are raising them right. Love It!! We do a Jesse tree. We have a box of handmade ornaments that go along with special events of the Bible. Every night we read a story to correlate with the ornament. Of course we’re behind. Always behind right now;)

Erin @Rare and Beautiful Treasures - Absolutely love this. And the design could NOT be any cuter!! Target doesn’t have anything on those adorable little poms!

Susan Miller - What a beautiful idea! I know that it’s well into the month, but I am going to start incorporating this today. Our children are grown and away, but I intend to plan events with them and our grand-children based upon your “Random Acts of Kindness” calendar for next year. As always, Thank You for all your wonderful ideas.

tiffini - what i love about this is how simple the acts of kindness are.
it is like we think it has to be all of these BIG things and the truth is .. it is all of the little things that matter. awhile back i had someone pay for my starbucks.
truthfully i was shocked for a moment. it was so unexpected.
and you know what happens right? i was so over the mood excited that i paid for someone behind me
there is something magical about random acts of kindness.
your kids will LOVE this:) love you…

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh I love these!! What great ideas. Going to pin them right now! :)

Mindy - I just love this and wonder if some of these could become year ’round random acts once we tune our hearts toward giving. Little things can mean SO much! And your board is just the sweetest : )

Glenda Childers - Thanks so much, Tara, for your note. Somehow I missed your switch over and now I have some fun posts to catch up on.

Merry Christmas and …


Kathy - I love your honesty and openness. Your new idea is great. We never really did much Advent countdown when our boys were young. Programs and services at church and school, not a daily task or treat. More recently, we use an Advent wreath and TRY to use Ann Voskamp’s Jesse tree devotional. It is basketball season and meals are not as we prefer them, together. So, we do our best. Merry Christmas to you! Our new Love sign is wonderful. So glad to have it.

Christy - I feel ya on teachable parenting moments! A few years ago I made a muffin tin ( to use for Advent. I filled it with candy or something small the first year, but after that, I decided to do something along the lines of what you did and make moments instead of gifts. This year, I downloaded Heather’s (Life Made Lovely) free printable, and I put the scriptures for each day (from the Jesus Storybook Bible) in the tins. Some days I write something on the back, like, “Let’s sing Silent Night by candlelight” or “Let’s drink hot chocolate and decorate the tree.” We also have a HeartFELT Advent calendar ( that’s more suited for our preschooler, but the big kids still like adding the felt pieces too. I just finished the bulk of our inside decorating today. I hope to get some lights strung outside in the next couple of days. I want more than anything to keep my focus on celebrating His birth…our Messiah, God with us! :)

megan - I LOVE this idea and I love your heart. I have been there so many times where I think I am doing a fun thing, only to realize that it is only feeding the “me” syndrome in all of us. This is such a great idea.

amber - this is so fabulous! an advent activity calander that doesn’t indulge on us but others….mmm! what Christmas is all about.

thanks for the inspiration!

Shannon @Lady's Little Loves - I love the ideas in your advent calendar. I was so on top of the advent last year. This year? I just feel tired!

It's the Little Things - December - LifeOhm - […] 25 Random Acts of Kindness: Random Acts of Kindness are a great way to bring joy to others. Here are some great suggestions. […]

25 Advent Calendar Ideas and Printables - Growing Up Gabel - […] Truly celebrate the season with this Twenty- Five Acts of Random Kindness Advent Calendar. […]

Jessica @ TSOP - I’m so excited about this! I was searching tonight for advent ideas and this one is my absolute favorite! My girls fight over it each year and it’s never what I intended it to be. Thank you for this and for the ideas. It’s just perfect.

Kristel - Hi! I’m a contributor for Disney Baby. Would you mind if I included this in our round up of advent calendars? I can link back and give full credit. Thanks!

Tara - Absolutely!

Tara - Thanks! We always have so much fun with our Advent calendar!

Advent Calendar for the True Meaning of Christmas - Domestic CharmDomestic Charm - […] Between You and Me blog had a very stylish and wonderful idea.  It is the 25 Random Acts of Kindness advent calendar.  And it is adorable to boot!  She and her children came up with 25 random acts of kindness that they wanted to provide to others throughout the season.  On each day, they chose one to do, thus teaching her children all about spreading love and joy.  And counting their own blessings. […]

Monique Barton (corn) - Love you…. Your family…. Always have and always will. Love you❤️ And miss you emensly! What you are doing is amazing!!!

Advent Calendar Make-Over | Gather Around The Table - […] other ideas and inspiration for your own advent makeovers, you can look here and here and here. There was also lots of talk this year about transforming the infamous Elf on the Shelf into a […]