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  • The Grateful Tree

    Today, I am over at my friend Becky’s blog writing about my daughter’s grateful tree. You can read the post here.

    Growing up, I always thought that I was such an easy child to raise. My parents hardly had to do anything, as I made good grades and was obedient. Except for the time that I seriously protested the family dinner when my parents started the Fit For Life craze diet in the 80s, I was a pretty perfect child. You would have protested the special mayo and alfalfa sprouts combo in the Pita bread as well, trust me.

    I still thought I was a pretty easy kid and that my parents got off easy until I was given the opportunity to raise a miniature version of myself when my third child Emily was born in 2003. Boy was I naive.

    I have learned more about myself through watching Emily grow up than any self help book or counselor’s direction could have provided. Emily is a kind, fiercely loyal, competitive, water loving, great belly laughing, little force who is passionate about life being fair and free of disease and injustice. Due to this innate desire for life being fair, Emily struggled with the transition back to the normal routine of life after our family encountered some health issues. She wanted to be given 100% confirmation that my cancer wouldn’t return and that Jeff and I would live until we were 100 years old. As much as Jeff and I wanted to give her that reassurance for many reasons, we were obviously unable to.

    Jeff and I are determined to raise Emily and our other three kids with a focus centered on gratitude and hope for the future, rather than fear, anger, and resentment that often trials can bring. But we knew that it was going to take more than words to change the spirit of our home and that it needed to happen quickly.

    We started by simply saying what we were grateful for every night at dinner. That quickly turned into painting and decorating paper tags with things we were grateful for. And then Emily made the suggestion to hang the colorful tags from the branches of our dead tree in the front yard. The irony of hanging beautiful sentiments full of life and gratitude from a brittle, lifeless tree has not gone unnoticed.

    Emily has several hundred tags hanging from her tree. Her classmates at school made tags and strangers have knocked on our door to contribute tags as well. It is such a joy to watch them twirling around with the slight cool breeze and to watch the morning walkers stop to read the sentiments. It’s even more of a joy to see that a ten year old is realizing that she is making a difference right where she is at.

    Emily is starting to dream big and hoping that other children will start making their own grateful trees. Last night before bed, Emily asked, “Can you imagine a world with hundreds of pretty, grateful trees?”

    So today I am simply grateful. Grateful for second, third, and the hundredth chance at living a full, blessed life. Grateful for leftover scrapbook paper that was just sitting around waiting to be filled with grateful sentiments and water color paints. And grateful for a 10 year old who is more focused now on a world filled with grateful trees than a world riddled with cancer and injustice.

    It’s good to be back. Life is so good.

    I have been quiet on this site and for good reason. Instead of dwelling on the reason(s), I am simply going to move forward. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago, that this site would be about gratitude and intentional living. I take great honor in knowing that your time is precious and want you to leave here feeling encouraged, inspired, or having learned from one another. I believe that I am back in a place where I can give that to you now. For those of you who have been here since the beginning… I’ve missed you. And for those of you who are stumbling upon this post or site for the first time… I look forward to getting to know you and learning from you.
    For those of you who have sent me emails of concern and encouragement, thank you. I hope the blessings are returned tenfold.

    Blessings sweet friends,



    Katheen Mughannam

    You are SOOOOOO awesome! You can’t believe the leap of joy my heart made when I saw you had a new post. So lovely to see you again ;-)

    23 February 2014 at 8:19 am Reply

      It feels so good to be back. It only took me 10 minutes to remember my password. Even Jeff didn’t remember! Thanks for the warm welcome back.

      23 February 2014 at 8:35 am Reply
    Jamie Walker

    What a beautiful post! I need to figure a way to make a grateful tree that can withstand the rains of Washington. Such a wonderful idea!

    23 February 2014 at 8:23 am Reply

      I’ve been thinking about the same thing with the Phoenix heat and monsoons this summer. Several got hit by our sprinkler and I think because most of our art supplies are permanent, they all seemed to survive. The wind has blown some off, but they’ve been easy to tie back on.

      23 February 2014 at 8:37 am Reply
    Jenny A

    Hi Jenny! I’m so happy to see this blog post :) I read Becky’s blog and immediately ran over here to see your post. I don’t know how many times I can tell you this – you are amazing. Thank you for being you. Happy blessings to you and your family!!

    23 February 2014 at 8:25 am Reply

      Thanks Jenny. Was glad that guest posting for Becky reminded me how much writing is good for the soul. Such a great perspective that I needed to be reminded of.

      23 February 2014 at 8:38 am Reply
    Kathy Geare

    What a refreshingly, blessed way to start my Sunday – a post from you, thank you! I have been following Emily’s Grateful Tree and been wanting to send a tag. Now your post has really inspired me to do it and not just think about it. If you’re comfortable with this please let me know at my email.

    23 February 2014 at 9:35 am Reply

    Definitely a blessed way to start a Sunday morning! Thank you for being so awesome, Jenny! I love yhe grateful tree! When I grow up I want to be just like you!

    23 February 2014 at 9:52 am Reply
    Lisa Muniz

    I am so glad you are back. What a beautiful story of Emily’s greatful tree! What an amazing spirit she has, and a fabulous mother to nurture it!

    23 February 2014 at 10:08 am Reply
      Lisa Muniz

      Ooops! Grateful….

      23 February 2014 at 10:11 am Reply

    Welcome back Miss Jenny, know that we have missed you and your posts and this morning it was such a delightful surprise to see a new post from you!! And then you shared such a beautiful story with us all – thank you so much, and yes, your daughter is your Mini Me heart and soul! Blessings to you all!

    23 February 2014 at 12:03 pm Reply

    i loved every single word for this and am soooo inspired;) amazing. amazing. amazing.

    23 February 2014 at 3:33 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing this story Jenny. I’ve missed your blog posts and have been thinking of you. Thank you for being an inspiration. Emily is an amazing girl.

    23 February 2014 at 3:37 pm Reply
    Sarah Guard

    Welcome back my friend. A is sending a tag to the tree with the hopes that we will follow it up with a visit soon. XOX

    23 February 2014 at 3:40 pm Reply
    Jen d

    What a beautiful reminder to live in the present and let go of the fear (something I need for sure). Love this idea!

    23 February 2014 at 3:58 pm Reply

    JENNY!! You’re back, and I’m so GRATEFUL to see this post :)

    I thought this was for a school project when I responded on Instagram…I love it even more, knowing it was an idea that sprouted at home!

    23 February 2014 at 5:13 pm Reply

    Loved this post- so inspirational! Happy you are ‘back’!! I’ve missed reading your posts :)

    23 February 2014 at 5:19 pm Reply

    Love this beautiful post. Your daughter has wisdom beyond her years. We can all take away something positive from this special tree.

    23 February 2014 at 5:51 pm Reply
    Julie McD

    Beautiful words, as always! Miss you, sweet friend and so glad to see you are well! I so hope to see your words some more and your amazing photos! Think of you often as I move forward to the year post-BMT mark myself! I am grateful for your supporting words and ‘e-ear’ when I needed someone who had ‘been there’ giving me encouragement. –Julie McD

    23 February 2014 at 6:32 pm Reply
    Lisa Spiegel

    I’m so happy you are here… Your words always inspire me as does your lovely life . Thank you for sharing so much of your heart.

    23 February 2014 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Today I am grateful you are back, Jenny. I hope all is well for you now. You are an amazing woman and you have a wonderful family. I always find your words inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us.

    24 February 2014 at 5:01 am Reply

    awesome. now I just wish I had a dead tree in my yard…

    24 February 2014 at 7:34 am Reply

    This such a beautiful post Jenny. Emily is learning a wonderful lesson so early in life to always have a grateful heart. On a side note, please be careful with that dead tree, we had a 3 year old boy in our area who got hit in the head by a dead tree limb and he will never recover. He sustained a great deal of brain damage. As trees die, they become weaker and weaker and you never know when their limbs become too brittle. Love your post, God bless.

    24 February 2014 at 10:51 am Reply
    Mary Cardini-Anderson

    I love your writing, your attitude, your photos and I love your Tag idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Mary from NH

    24 February 2014 at 11:02 am Reply
    Pam Abbott

    Welcome Back! So excited to see you had a new post and loved what a beautiful message it carried.

    24 February 2014 at 12:30 pm Reply
    betsy cruickshank

    I was so happy to see this post and so wonderful that it is the Grateful Tree. Anything that you write is so awesome to read thank you for sharing even a little part of your life with us.

    24 February 2014 at 8:54 pm Reply

    Maybe Miss Emily will make another… I am grateful to be able to visit in my PJ’s!

    24 February 2014 at 9:29 pm Reply

    Hello sweet friend! Glad to see you back!

    25 February 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply

    Ohh! My heart just beat happy beats when my blog feed showed “learn with Jenny”! Any LWJ blog post day is a “red letter day”

    25 February 2014 at 5:34 pm Reply
    Donna G

    Woohoo!!! So happy your back!

    28 February 2014 at 3:01 pm Reply

    I have missed you tremendously. And although I’m just now finding you again, I am grateful you are back. What a great person Emily is becoming. Way to go Mom!

    6 April 2014 at 12:06 am Reply

    I was about to send an email when I saw the new post:) SO glad you are back!!! I too would LOVE to have my girls start a grateful tree…but I wonder how we could make it work in the Washington rain:)

    15 April 2014 at 11:24 pm Reply

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