Posts Tagged ‘Family time’

Gratitude = JOY!!!


Gratitude is thanking God for His abundant blessings in our everyday lives. It’s acknowledging the big and the little, the complex and the simple. It’s realizing that what I have, I don’t deserve; and what I think is difficult, could always be worse.


Yes it is all those things! But Gratitude is so much more…

Gratitude goes beyond the sweet, the lovely, the pleasant, the gift-wrapped, bow-tied packages… Gratitude is realizing that whatever I’m going through today, and whatever my family is facing, is part of a bigger picture that God is painting. While I see only a line on the paper, a streak of color, He sees the completed work – perfection. Gratitude trusts a holy God with a divinely appointed plan. It is knowing and believing that the joys and blessings and smiles, as well as trials and challenges and tears, are all part of life’s classroom – and the test we face is the choice to receive or resist the grace of God – today, tomorrow, next week.

We all face difficult moments in life. Some are harder than others. Today may seem darker than yesterday for one person; but perhaps the sun is beginning to break through the clouds for another. Day begins to dawn, with the rising sun; but with the end of the day comes a season of darkness…waiting, watching, praying, hoping. These are the moments that we are offered God’s incredible grace, and the chance to trust His bigger purposes when we cannot see beyond the pencil lines of today. But it is a choice each person must make – each family must make.

Recently we began to have a time of sharing around the table at each meal, as a family. When we gather together for a meal, we go around and share areas of gratitude, things that we are grateful for. What a joy it is, to exhort one another daily – to hear father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter – sharing what they are grateful for, and why! It brings peace and harmony to the table. It fills the home with joy and gratitude. Hearts overflowing with praise and thanksgiving – it is bringing glory to God’s name. When we would have been tempted to complain, or be anxious about the upcoming events of a busy day, or to fall beneath the burden of a trial hard to bear… we are reminded of so many wonderful blessings that God has bestowed upon us, that we are not worthy to receive.

This week we were reminded of Paul, who endured unimaginable trials, and was deprived of all his worldly possessions but the very clothes on his back – yet even then, he exhorted his fellow believers to be thankful for everything, always, and to be anxious for nothing, fully content.

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

We are learning as a family, to put aside the worry, fear, grumbling, complaining, murmuring, despair that could accompany the trials we encounter in life. Rather, let us watch and wait for the dawning of the morning. Let us rejoice and be thankful, that we serve a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. His compassion fails not. Praise the Lord!

What are you facing today as a family, or as an individual. If you are not facing a trial right now, you are sure to face one at some time in the future. Purpose to take the path of gratitude, even when you do not feel like it.

The choice to be grateful, is the choice to receive God’s blessed gift of overwhelming joy! Gratitude and joy go hand in hand; yes, they are inseparably linked!

Only He sees the bigger picture. Remember, He is the Master Artist. We see only the glimpse of today, the moment of time we are living in. Trust the One Who sees the perfect ending. He knows best! :-) :-) :-)

So let us die to self, that we may live for Christ. Let us endure the pruning, that we may bear more fruit! Let us press on through the times of refining and purging, that we may come forth as gold (Job 23:10). May the likeness of Christ be seen in our lives, as we choose to respond with gratefulness!!! It is a choice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice…Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure…lovely…of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Family Game Night – Settlers of Catan!


Stelzl-Staddon Catan Game

A few years ago, our dear friends the Staddons introduced a very fun game to us – Settlers of Catan! We first played it with their family, and LOVED it! Exciting…action packed…and of course a little friendly competition thrown it. :-) It makes for a great evening of laughter and fun with family and friends. Over time, we discovered other expansions/extensions/versions of the Catan game that can be played separately or together – Cities & Knights, Seafarers, Traders & Barbarians, and also a card version of the Settlers of Catan! We collected these over time for a discounted price at an Amish store in Lancaster county, PA. Recently, we got the newest Catan game Settlers of America, and have discovered that it is loads of fun! Each game is thrilling in and of itself, but when extensions and expansions are added, they make for an absolutely unforgettable evening! Trading…building…attacking and defending…strategizing as teams to obtain the most points as quickly as possible – when the options for getting there are unlimited! the Catan games are a Stelzl family favorite!!! :-) :-) :-)


Team Green (Mommy and Josiah)  and Team Brown (Sarah, David, Bethany, and Timothy) were racing to earn the “longest road” card (a value of 2 points) which made for an unpredictable, adventurous time of strategic thinking and team planning! Team Orange (Daddy and Jonathan) had taken over the most profitable region of brick and wood, preventing some of the other teams from building much needed roads for expansion! Team Green built a settlement on the coast, thus obtaining a special trade deal which actually brought about their final victory of winning the game in the end! Congratulations Team Green!





Juice Popsicles and Chocolate Chip Cookies – a special family game night treat!


The scores were so close! The victory title went back and forth from one team to the next…suspense…strategy…Settlers of Catan!

Do you have a favorite family game? Why not add Settlers of Catan to your collection?