Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thankful Thursday: January

(For an explanation of Thankful Thursday, go here.)

366) The Karlsgodt family. Love them.
367) Sweet, obedient dogs like Nike.
368) Laughing until it hurts.
369) Getting excited about the cruise!!!!
370) Being convicted by a passing comment made during the announcements. I love my church.
372) Singing old hymns. They do my heart good.
373) Catching up with friends (lunch with Josh) and realizing that the strength of the friendship holds up under the weight of time-out-of-contact.
374) Hearing a friend preach the gospel to himself and, incidentally, to you as well.
375) Cleaning and organizing and then feeling clean and organized.
376) The tired, burning feeling of a good lifting workout.
377) Runner's high.
378) Managing a heavy load well - a sign that I am a good nurse.
379) Feeling like I was given just the right words to say/email to encourage a friend.
380) Getting a voicemail from Julie regarding a conversation she had and hearing her exclaim "He hears my prayers! He hears my prayers!" Yes. He truly hears our prayers.
382) Being comfortable enough to make jokes during the Hem/Onc/BMT practice meetings (and having them be funny enough for people to laugh!).
383) A GOOD, LONG diner conversation with Chinwe. Really, really good.
384) The sweet pain of the Spirit's regenerating work - realizing that I don't need to be convinced that other people love me, rather, I need to repent of my idolatry of my own happiness and the approval of others.
385) Getting back in the pool. I love swimming.
386) Sore muscles - evidence of a good workout.
387) A sweet note from Kristy thanking me for the advent basket. It is good for my heart to hear of the good those baskets did in others' lives.
388) Having my schedule switched around so I was free to go to SNL only to find that the topic was "fearing God," a major theme in what I've been learning the past two weeks. Go figure. :-)
389) Taking time to write letters.
391) The joy I find in mailing packages.
392) Peter Mayer's song "Holy Now."
393) Making plans - Chinwe's birthday, triathlons, Mexico, cruise, AZ, quilt....there are some fabulous things happening in 2011!
395) MAIL!! Particularly a BEAUTIFUL calendar sent by Warren full of his pictures. I LOVE it!!!
396) Spinning! First class today and I loved it.
398) Sweet time of prayer over friends with babies in their bellies.
399) Having Pastor John back in the pulpit - the way he communicates assists me in hearing the truth clearly.
400) Watching The Nativity Story - a good reminder/reality check of some of the practical (& difficult) circumstances surrounding Christ's birth.
401) The weight of a baby in my arms.
403) Good chats with Julie and Lindsay plus a Skype date with Laurel tomorrow. I am SO loved and I am so blessed TO love.
404) Hearing Lindsay tear up while expressing how loved she felt from her Christmas gift.
405) Feeling like I know someone well enough to give them good feedback when they make an observation about their life.
406) Long workouts followed by healthy meals - feeling like I am making good decisions.
407) Time to video chat with Laurel before she leaves on Thursday. I love that girl and will miss her dearly.
408) Hearing her say we can video chat again next week. That's not so far away.
409) Being back with the Bible study girls. The fellowship with them is an encouragement to me.
410) Getting excited about planning Chinwe's birthday party - I LOVE surprising people!!!
411) Feeling my body get stronger.
412) Really nice patients.
414) Anticipating God speaking in Job - I think I will get to that part this weekend.
415) A lovely note from my roommie when I got home. What a nice way to end the day.
416) Running into Melissa at the gym and getting a high-five while doing my wall sits. I love encouragement.
418) When you don't think a patient has much personality but then you find a topic of interest and suddenly can't get out of the room. I love seeing people come out of their shell.
420) Laurel. She leaves tomorrow. Man, I'm gonna miss her. What in incredible blessing she is in my life!!
421) Reading Job. Being really excited that God speaks tomorrow.
422) Chinwe's chili & rice.
423) Working on Do6B with Paul - love catching up with him and taking messages to Lindsay. What a sweet man.
425) Messages from Laurel as she travels.
426) Breakfast with Chinwe - being reminded that following Jesus is different than talking about following him or even memorizing what he says about following him.
427) Completing weight lifting workouts that I couldn't finish last week.
428) A weekend away at a beautiful cabin with an amazing group of friends.
429) Sitting in a hot tub in the winter.
430) Opportunities to practice repenting of my idolization of other people, my "need" for them to love me and my own happiness and asking instead for a heart that longs to see God glorified, whatever place that might put me in.
432) Crispy, burnt bacon.
433) Realizing I really enjoy preparing food for others.
434) Days with NOTHING to do except play games, sit in the hot tub and eat.
435) Laughing about going snipe hunting and learning that Kristy was duped into it, too. :-)
436) Making perfect chocolate chip pancakes.
437) Napping in a car.
438) The exhausted feel of a post-3-hour workout.
439) Laughing at Modern Family with my roommie.
440) Laying in bed by 9:30.
441) Bible study - I love those girls and I learn meaningful things from them.
442) A well-timed call from Julie - it was good to hear from her today and our conversation was good for my heart.
443) A good convo with Hannah - I love laughing with her and was thankful for an opportunity to share my heart a little as well.
444) Bought tickets to AZ for Kristy and I!!!! So blessed to have the $ to go and a lovely friend to join me.
445) Grace for people like me.
446) Feeling competent in answering TONS of questions for my patient who was very anxious about his heart surgery tomorrow.
447) Having him thank me at the end of the night and tell me he will never forget me.
448) And having him also tell me he has a hard time believing I'm not married. :-)
449) Seeing a BEAUTIFUL sunrise this morning and being reminded that God's mercies are new every morning - I NEVER exhaust his mercy toward me!
450) Serving a God who SEES us in our trouble and who HEARS us when we pray.
452) Giving out recipes at work. Realizing I am beginning to know a select few by heart.
453) Working with people I sort of know who are fun to talk to.
454) Filling out my Japan Exchange Program application and realizing I have actually done a lot of stuff at work in the past four years.
455) Watching a video from NYE weekend of the Oostras in their footie pajamas and remembering how blessed I am to have that couple in my life.
456) Learning the "swype" technology on my new phone and accidentally texting Ang things like "Too cold to snowshoe. Kabobs."
457) Having the courage to say hard things.
458) Having friends who receive hard conversations well.
460) Staying up until 4am because the people I am hanging out with are simply too fun to convince myself to go to bed.
461) Hanging out with the sisters, Hansons & Oostras.
462) Strawberry rum slush. YUM!
463) Board games.
464) Youtube surfing.
465) Markie's laugh/giggle. Seriously can't get enough.
466) Kyle asking what I want in my pancake, me replying "chocolate chips and love" and then him buying sweetheart candies at the store. Hilarious.
467) He also bought flowers for Ang. So sweet.
468) Football, family, food. Fun!
469) Sweet hymns that minister to a tired heart.
470) New small group. I am struck anew by the realization that there is a bond that unites believers beyond the typical relationship.
480) Setting my alarm back to a later time.
483) Repotting plants - supporting life - finding pots that I LOVE.
484) Randomly running across a wrought iron table that I LOVE and is exactly what I have been passively looking for.
485) The look of Aden growing out of his awesome new pot, draped tenderly over my wine rack on my beautiful new piece of wrought iron furniture.
488) Patients telling me I am very kind and that they appreciate my care.
489) Funny old men.
490) Thinking ahead and taking everything I need into an isolation room so I don't have to ungown.
492) Naming my plants.
493) Perfectly balanced work days - busy enough to keep my interested, slow enough to not be stressful.
496) The Brennas - I love that couple.
497) The feeling of having laughed a lot over the course of a day.
498) A fun day at a wedding with friends.
499) Doctor-sisters who can call in flexaril prescriptions on a Saturday evening.
500) Friends who are so sweet they offer to get me a plate from the buffet so I don't have to stand with my sore back (I didn't accept the offer, but sweet nonetheless!).
501) Sunshine! Warm weather! Green grass! Palm trees! Mexico!!
502) Three lovely ladies to spend the week with and one more coming tomorrow. I am so blessed to have these women in my life!
503) My mom texting me that she prayed for me every time she woke up during the night.
504) An email from a friend - knowing he understood the "correction" I sent him in my last email - feeling free to be the church to each other - rebuking in love.
505) Answered prayer - making it through a long day of traveling without too much pain in my back.
506) How relaxing I find it to lay in the sunshine and read books.
507) Chicken pad thai & a good cab at Havana Moon with live Cuban music in the background. Lovely.
508) Asking questions
509) and getting long answers.
510) Long hugs from Linds. I miss that girl.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday: December

(For an explanation of Thankful Thursday, go here.)

221) Hearing my mom laugh.
222) Making my mom laugh.
223) Sipping cocoa in sweats by the light of the Christmas tree.
224) The smell of fried plantains as I walk into the house.
230) Remembering what music does to my soul. Being moved to tears. Feeling my breath catch. Hearing something so beautiful it makes me wonder how heaven could possibly sound more beautiful.
232) Laughing with my sisters from across the room because we think so much alike.
233) Hearing Ang say the advent basket is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for her.
234) The humor, wit and profundity of N.D. Wilson's book.
235) Camp.
237) Making Emily a paper chain for her wedding countdown and learning that gift-giving may be one of my higher expressive love languages.
238) Seeing Jill's beautiful quilt come together perfectly.
239) Homemade oatmeal cream pies.
240) Beautiful, undisturbed piles of snow covering the earth and announcing the arrival of winter.
241) Getting a text from Rachel saying how loved she felt from the paper chain, complete with a picture of a chain-draped Loki.
242) Seeing Emily's face when I delivered her paper chain. :-)
244) Communion at Bethlehem.
245) Time to chat with Chinwe after a weekend away.
247) Working with Kristy Koza.
248) Three pieces of real mail waiting for me when I got home.
249) A BEAUTIFUL card from Lindsay.
250) Fun, surprising, meaningful conversations with co-workers.
252) Finding eggs arranged in a pattern in the crate and not wanting to eat any in an attempt to preserve the beauty. :-)
256) The joy of serving others by cooking them food.
257) The coos and grunts of a 5lb infant asleep in my arms.
258) Having cousin Eric tell me I am one of the best listeners that he knows and that he values my opinion - what a thoughtful & meaningful comment from him.
260) BELLY LAUGHING at Seinfeld as George & Kramer discuss how humanity can be smart enough to get to the moon and yet still be so stupid.
262) A patient who was a storyteller with a dry sense of humor.
263) Hearing him tell a family member "Find the humor in every situation and if there isn't any, make something up."
264) People who simply enjoy life.
266) Friends who are willing to drive you back to your house in a snowstorm so you can pick up the quilt you wanted to bind.
267) The weight of a dog in my lap, curled up watching a movie with me.
268) Christmas movies!
270) Impromptu sleepovers.
271) Wind-cut snowdrifts.
272) People who ask good questions, especially good faith questions.
273) Curling up next to the fireplace with a good book and enjoying the Christmas tree lights and the sun setting over the snowy horizon.
274) Getting the fireplace pilot light lit all by myself and then texting Dad "I did it!" only to have him reply, "I knew you could. " :-)
275) The Holy Spirit working on my heart to change my perspective on missing the show at the Guthrie and preventing me from ruining (by my poor attitude) what turned out to be a perfectly good day.
277) The best Dad in the world. #happybirthdaydaddio
278) Using hashtags in my gratitude list. :-)
279) Feeling like my patients know that I care for their situation (like my 52 year old stroke patient with expressive aphasia. How frustrating).
280) The feeling of changing out of my uniform and into sweats.
281) Good writers.
283) Christmas shopping. I. Love. Giving. Gifts.
284) Being known at the scrap booking store as "The Paper Chain Lady." :-)
285) Another great dinner conversation with Chinwe. Definitely a weekly highlight.
287) Wrapping presents - being financially blessed in such a way that I can give the gifts I want to give.
288) Writing Christmas letters to Laurel and Linds. I love writing letters.
289) Reading in a coffee shop. It's been too long.
291) Icicles that look like mini-frozen waterfalls coming off of the Wisconsin bluffs.
292) Clear winter skies that make for beautiful days driving to the Dells for lunch.
293) AAA (Rach locked her keys in her car. AAA is so great).
294) Car therapy. I love a good drive.
295) Purple and pink sunsets with a pink beam of light shooting up from the horizon.
296) Getting a massage
297) and a haircut
298) on the same day.
299) Time to read.
301) Christmas services at Bethlehem - choir, orchestra, great sermon. Lovely morning.
302) Having Laurel in church with me.
303) Three long embraces with Laurel - before church, after church and saying goodbye at the airport.
304) Lunch with the Stoners. Haven't seen them since the wedding. I care for that family deeply.
306) Seeing pieces of myself hanging/lying all over the Oostras' apartment.
308) Laurel saying "You love people so well. If I ever get a chance to talk about you in front of a lot of people, I will have a lot to say." :-) It's nice to have friends who see that part of me.
309) Being reminded in church that the pagan astrologers worshipped while the educated religious leaders knew the answer but stayed put (Mt 2:1-12). Biblical training does not guarantee a heart inclined to worship. I needed to be reminded of that. I long for more than knowledge. I want to be a worshipper.
310) A nice long chat with Chinwe when I got home. I love having a roommate.
313) Friends who call me when they're down "just to hear [my] voice on [my] voicemail."
314) A patient's family member who is an RN and a house supervisor at another facility being glad I am her dad's nurse and giving me a pat on the back and a "thank you" on her way out of the hospital.
315) Feeling competent at work.
316) Rides to my car from Kristy after work.
318) Lasix.
320) Spicy chili.
324) Tie-ing with Hannah 10 times in a row playing Paper, Rock, Scissors.
325) Laughing until it hurts.
326) Sitting around the table with Kyle, Julie, and Ang, scheming up things like burning our grievances over a candle in a homemade snowcave on NYE.
328) Hugs from Grandpa.
329) Pecan pie.
330) Home.
332) The Twelve Days of Christmas much as I hate it, I kind of love it, too.
333) Playing games with the sisters and cousins.
334) Back seat, middle, feet on the hump.
335) Watching my extended family try to push Jon's suburban out of the ditch.
336) My amazingly generous parents.
337) Lazy Christmas mornings.
338) Knowing that everyone finally knows about the advent baskets. :-)
339) Sitting on the carpetball table, having a lovely phone conversation with Chinwe.
341) Crying my way through church with Mom and Grandpa. Missing Grandma on their anniversary.
342) Watching Teri Anderson painstakingly raise her hands to sing "here in our weakness you'll find us bowing before your throne."
343) Listening to DJ Ruby's baptismal testimony.
344) Lunch with Mom & Dad, Har & Sal, Greg & Linda, Grandpa, Harris & Alice. I was the token child. What a hoot.
345) Riding home with Oostras. Absolutely love them.
347) Singing nursery rhymes with a 41 year old developmentally disabled woman who is sweet. as. can. be.
348) Watching her parents treat her with sweetness and overwhelming love.
349) Having her rub my arm while we sang.
350) Breakfast with Chris and Rach. Having them take time to meet with me individually. Love them.
354) Emails from Julie that ask all the right questions and the freedom I feel to respond honestly.
355) Finding out the Jill cried the whole first week of the advent basket because she felt so blessed by it.
356) Kyle & Julie.
358) Chatting with Jules while grocery shopping at Target. Felt like a small glimpse of what we would do together if we lived near each other.
359) Feeling my competitiveness kick in as I try to master Wii canoeing.
360) Kyle & Julie exchanging "knowing" glances when I say I want to try to beat it just a couple more times - knowing that they know me, are endeared to me and love me.
361) My Hanson, Brandes & Oostra "siblings" who want to hang out together and spend NYE playing games.
363) Dear friends who are willing to drive all the way up to Blaine in crappy weather so I can pick up a jacket.
364) Friends with whom you can have non-awkward conversations about awkward topics.
365) Hannah's humor. Today's version: A list of grievances for 2010 which included 12 men in the huddle and an instance of order regret.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I was cleaning out one of my notebooks at work today and I found a poem that I wrote in Nigeria last fall. I completely forgot about it. I usually rework my poems about 12 times and even then, most of them never meet the public eye. This is a first draft written in about 15 minutes and then lost in the dark abyss that I call my backpack. But I'm just gonna go with it. :-)

I am trying to break up the Thankful Thursday posts with at least one post in between. That puts me at two regular posts per week....we'll see how that goes!!!

Well, for this week.... a poem....

They took the light.
No warning. No reason.
One moment we have light
and plans and vision
and then - darkness.
Suddenly, everything becomes difficult.
Seeing, yes, but also cooking, eating
and not sweating.
Plans are altered
restlessness invades
and the night crawlers come out of hiding.
Giant fighting ants and a roach that could fill my palm.

I draw my knees into myself
and hope they don't notice me.
And so I sit. And sweat.
Waiting for the light.

And yet the darkness holds surprises -
dare I say joys -
and these will be my clearest memories.
Conversation. Friendship. Laughter, even.
Not impossible in the light
and yet the darkness somehow seems necessary.

Grateful for the darkness, yet longing for the light-
for vision and and plans and entertainment.
They will bring back the light.
We will wait.

He took the light.
No warning. No reason.
One moment I had light
and plans and vision
and then - darkness.
Suddenly, everything became difficult.
Seeing, yes, but also thinking, feeling,
and living.
Plans were altered
restlessness invaded
and fear came out of hiding.
Giant plaguing doubts and an isolation that could fill my heart.

I drew everything into myself
and hoped they wouldn't notice me.
And so I sat. And cried.
Waiting for the light.

And yet the darkness holds lessons -
dare I say truths -
and these will be my clearest memories.
Humility. Repentance. Friendship, even.
Not impossible in the light
and yet the darkness somehow seems necessary.

Grateful for the darkness, yet longing for the light-
for vision and plans and life.
Christ Jesus, bring back the light.
I will wait.

It's amazing to me to think about what a different place I am in now than when I wrote this. Praise God for his faithfulness. As I type this, I am praying for several of you who are waiting for him to bring back your light. May he hold you gently in his constant, faithful hands while you wait....

"But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me."
-Micah 7:7

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday: November

(For an explanation of Thankful Thursday, go here.)

84) Living in a country where I can vote for my leaders.
85) A warm-in-the-sun-yet-cool autumn day - perfect for Bible study time outside under my favorite Vikings blanket.
86) Date night with my roommie - sweet time to talk about life and pray together. Love.
87) Feeling overwhelmed with love for my Bible study girls - gaining great biblical insights from them & loving sharing life together.
88) Talking about something over dinner with Chinwe and then having Rachel Nagel pray something similar in her opening Bible study prayer and feeling God's presence/leading/consistency in my life because of it.
89) Bursting out in full-fledged belly laughter in the middle of a conversation, looking at Chinwe laughing and knowing we are thinking the same thing.
92) Seeing patients & families that I worked with on previous days, remembering their names and having good follow-up conversations.
95) The feeling of having written a good story and written it well.
97) Rides to my car from Beth & opportunities to chat with her about where God is leading her.
100) An email from my aunt Faith telling me how much she loves me and what joy and laughter I bring into her life (in response to a blog post).
101) The smell of freshly baked cookies from the oven. Somehow they smell even better when baked for someone else.
102) Seeing the advent baskets come together and getting excited about it not only being fun but being spiritually encouraging, too.
104) Campfires on brisk November nights.
106) Sabbath time away from the "noise" to be in the Word and fellowship.
107) Getting an email from Warren in which he called me an "uncommon friend" - quite possibly one of the most meaningful friendship compliments I have ever been given.
108) Feeling obedient to an opportunity to bless someone financially.
109) Feeling comfortable stepping in to an informal leadership role and getting a small glimpse into how God has uniquely gifted me and ways he uses me.
110) Falling back an hour. Love.
111) Pearls.
112) Babies that fit perfectly in the crook of my arm.
113) Sitting with Laurel at communion after being reminded of how Christ calls us individually but also calls "us" as a community - such a tender moment for us.
115) The way Kyle treats me with such respect and makes me feel well cared for.
116) The opportunity to pick up overtime at work so I can pay for the Christmas presents I am really excited to give.
120) Making lasagna after a 16 hour day at work and being reminded that cooking is not as difficult as I make it out to be.
121) Waking up from a dream in the middle of the night laughing and not being able to fall back asleep because I can't. stop. laughing.
122) Allowing myself to sleep in after working really hard yesterday.
123) Iced almond mochas from Caribou.
124) 60 degree November days.
125) Having my lasagna turn out not-so-well and deciding that is okay even if I am serving it to company.
126) Calling Chris to play him his birthday accordion serenade and having a lovely conversation.
127) Sweet potato fries.
128) Having Linds call to pick my brain about job stuff (since I am 1. a nurse 2. who knows her well) and feeling like I had worthwhile feedback for her.
129) Discovering that Jill and I will be really good vacation buddies.
130) Planning a winter getaway to Mexico and realizing it is only happening because I have been blessed with the friends, money and time to do so.
131) Veterans who have served our country and given their lives (or pieces of their lives) for my freedom.
132) Details working out with semi-stressful vacation planning.
133) My patient mother who loves me so dearly and handles me so well.
136) The feeling I get when the timing of my day falls together perfectly - logistics mesh and I get everywhere on time.
137) Truffles.
138) Roadtrips with my sisters.
139) My mom being so excited to see us that she is waiting by the door of the hotel room.
140) The way my mom gets so excited to see us and how anxious she is to "visit."
141) Museums. I love learning. The U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry was amazing.
142) All-you-can eat bacon at the Embassy Suites breakfast. :-)
143) A day in Chicago with the whole family.
145) Hearing the joy in Emily's voice after her engagement.
146) Hearing Dad say he cares a lot more about being with his girls than going to football games.
147) Having Dad completely treat us to a weekend in Chicago and feeling well cared for.
148) Beautiful weather for outdoor football in November.
149) Hearing someone marvel at the fact that we came to the game as a family and realizing how uniquely blessed I am.
151) Coming home to find the fridge stuffed with delicious food.
152) Taking some of said food to work with me for a delightful dinner.
156) Starting my day with breakfast and prayer with my roommie.
158) Getting my work email down to 5 emails.
159) Seeing my 83 year old, confused patient come out of brain surgery and still "mother" her adult children.
162) Having a patient's family *hoping* I get to stay with them all 12 hours and then being genuinely disappointed when I don't.
163) Building good rapport with a young girl who is an individual assignment for psych reasons.
164) Having my behaviorally challenging individual assignment patient ask if I will be her nurse again the following day.
166) Ohmygosh I am so excited about these advent baskets I can hardly stand it!!!!!!!!
167) Waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep because I am so excited about my day.
168) Getting invited over to Jill and Kristy's for a steak and sweet potato dinner.
169) Pumpkin spice white chocolate mocha.
170) FINALLY getting to meet Amaka!!! I think I am really going to like her.
171) Sleeping in.
172) The sight of beautiful advent baskets, all wrapped and organized.
173) Dinner at Chesters with girls I love.
174) Have I mentioned lately how excited I am about these advent baskets?
176) Lavender baths and relaxing music.
180) Game night with the sisters, Hansons, Oostras and Abbie - laughing, laughing, laughing and laughing.
189) Jimmy John's. #5, baby!
191) Lazy mornings when I am still sitting in bed in my pajamas at noon.
192) Productive days off when I feel like I got a lot of stuff done despite still being in my bed in my pajamas at noon.
194) The joy I find in my beautiful Christmas tree.
195) Dinner date/prayer night with my roommie. What a blessing.
196) Friends who bring me Thanksgiving dinner when I am working at the hospital.
197) Green bean casserole.
198) Mom ALWAYS crying when I talk to her on holidays when I can't make it home. I am so dearly loved.
200) Christmas music.
202) Curling up with a good book, hot cocoa and burning vanilla-scented oil while reading by the light of the Christmas tree (and a headlamp).
203) A job that I love going to 98% of the time (even if today was in the 2%).
205) The beauty of color and the art of theater displayed in the movie Hero.
206) Having a family invite me into their home for Thanksgiving dinner when I can't be home with my own. #relationallyblessed.
207) Snuggling with Loki and being told he has a very short list of "friends."
208) Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
209) Long hugs from old friends.
210) Coming to terms with Chinwe having found out about the advent baskets and realizing things can still be fun even if they don't play out exactly how I intended or expected.
211) Lazy, alarm-less morning complete with pajamas and chocolate chip pancakes.
212) Little peanut 5-lb premies who are just so cute and fragile. So glad baby Jadon is doing well and was born without any serious premie complications.
213) Successful advent basket deliveries. :-)
214) Long, laugh-filled conversations with my mom.
215) Long convo with Linds reminding me how well she knows me, how well we relate and how well our friendship is surviving the distance. LOVE her.
216) Excitement headaches.
217) The joy of a paper-chain countdown.
218) Getting "found out" as the advent-basket-giver by Hannah and laughing SO HARD as I try to deny it because she knows me so well and I simply can not lie to her.
219) The feeling of having a really big, fun secret.
220) Listening to Julie tell me about how excited she is about her mystery basket.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thankful Thursday: October

(For an explanation of Thankful Thursday, go here.)

1) Loving a book so much that I don't even mind having to start it over, re-reading the first 70 pages for the third time.
5) Shopping for advent basket gifts and getting really excited about blessing my family and friends.
8) Looking through pictures from our Milwaukee weekend and remembering how great it was. Could not have had more fun. Could not have felt more blessed.
9) Meeting a mom who has adopted dozens of medically complicated foster children and realizing I want to be like her.
16) Breakfast and prayer with my roommie.
18) Sneaking off the floor mid-evening to have a fabulously funny phone call with the Oostras.
21) Road tripping with the sisters and laughing myself to tears.
22) Dad going out of his way to tell me - AGAIN - how beautiful he thought I looked tonight.
23) Listening to Grandma Haaland talk about how blessed she feels by everyone at Bjorn and Aly's rehearsal dinner.
24) Hugs from the Hanson boys, the sisters-in-law, Har & Sal, Grandma Lois, Linda, the Oostras, Norm & Trish and all kinds of other people whom I love.
25) Tearful conversations with Jules in the middle of a restaurant reception room because we know each other so well and both feel so blessed even as we grieve different circumstances in our lives.
27) Papa Harley crying his way through his speech.
29) Having the opportunity to publicly read Scripture over my brother and new sister-in-law as they get married.
30) Seeing Marky wipe tears off his chin three times as they prayed over Bjorn and Aly. I love those boys.
31) Looking around at the wedding and feeling so, so, so overwhelmed by the love I have for these people.
32) Feeling like I am "home" not because of where I am but because of who I am with.
35) Feeling "thought of" when Hannah grabbed breakfast for me because I was still sleeping.
36) Seeing my dad get excited about football.
40) An hour alone after a people-filled weekend.
41) Starting the day with hugs from both parents.
46) Starting my shift with my HIV patient's life partner being very testy & defensive - making me think he is used to being judged very quickly - and ending the shift with him asking if I would be back tomorrow.
50) Time with dear friends who are in town for a night; tears with Rachel in the car; feeling known and safe; being entertained by Chris' randomness.
52) Realizing that every opportunity for Christian fellowship is a gift of God's grace, NOT something I am entitled to.
53) Realizing this "season of loss" is actually a shattering of my idealistic "wish dreams" for what Christian fellowship looks like in my life and being okay with asking God to reveal himself in the shattered pieces.
54) Having a roommate who I can talk to and pray with. And one who laughs.
55) Strong bedtime hugs.
59) Writing letters that I am excited to send.
61) Seeing Chinwe in the morning before work.
62) Starting the day with a hug.
69) Gopher football with my dad - beautiful night, beautiful stadium. Brutal game.
70) Feeling my dad pursue me in conversation over dinner as he asked me about Nigeria, listened attentively and responded.
71) Getting a parting hug and kiss from my dad, getting my stuff out of his trunk and then getting another hug and kiss just for good measure. :-)
72) The joy of giving someone a gift that they love.
75) Feeling well cared for by Kyle.
76) Having breakfast with the Magnos and having them know me well enough and love me well enough to validate some of how I feel about small groups.
77) Worship at Bethlehem.
81) Waking up to already-made coffee left for me by my roommie.
82) Cute little boys (a patient) who love to play and love being little boys.
83) The soft comfort of my bed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: A Primer

I have decided to start a new series on my blog. I am going to call it "Thankful Thursday."

As I have been reading through the historical books of the Old Testament, I have been struck by God's repeated command to Israel to remember. As they wandered through the wilderness, grumbling and complaining about being rescued from Egypt (you know, that glorious land of slavery where life was so good...ahem, insert sarcasm here, ahem....), God almost exclusively responds with the command for them to remember...remember how God brought you out of slavery...remember the miracles you have seen God perform...remember the ways he has provided for you in the wilderness....when you feel like grumbling and complaining, remember.

So, last October, I started making a list to help me remember. I call it my gratitude list.

This past fall, I became more and more aware of how discontent, dissatisfied and just generally unhappy I was feeling. So I started making a list of things I was thankful for. I began writing down five things I am thankful for from the day...moments when I saw God's hand in my life, ways that I feel blessed by him, meaningful interactions I had or simply things that made me smile - anything that can be considered a gift from the abundant Giver. (I got the idea from following the blog of my dear friend Rachel who got the idea from Ann Voskamp who has nowwritten a book about cultivating a spirit of least I think that's what the book is about....I haven't read it...).

It has become a very, very meaningful spiritual discipline for me.

I tweaked a quote from Ann Voskamp and wrote it as a prologue to myself in my gratitude journal. It reads, "In giving thanks for the life I already have, may I find the life I've always wanted." As I read back through my gratitude list earlier this week, I found the life I have been wanting. And it's my life. Right now.

I made an intentional decision early on not to share my list publicly. I was mostly concerned that thinking about sharing it with others would influence what I wrote. I am weak like that. But as I read through my list earlier this week, rejoicing over the mercy and grace God has shown me in the past eight months, I couldn't help but think of how he not only commands Israel to remember but he also commands them to speak of his works. They are to tell each other the stories of his faithfulness. They are to rejoice together over the things he has done. And I have been writing my list long enough to know what it looks like when it's genuine, so I have a better idea of what to watch for to make sure it remains genuine.

So I have decided to share some pieces of my list.

My purpose in doing so is twofold.

Firstly, I want to tell of his works. I want to share these pictures of his faithfulness. I want his goodness to be known through my life.

Secondly, I hope it may influence at least a few of you to start lists of your own. I know the desire was stirred in me by reading Rachel's blog and I hope that you may be spurred on to look more closely for God's hand in your life, that you, too, may find the life you've always wanted.

Here's my plan (because I always have a plan....): I will post my lists on Thursdays (hence the name "Thankful Thursday"). To start with, I am going to go back and pick out some highlights from the past eight months covering one month each week which should catch me up to the present time by the end of July. After that, each post will be items from the previous week. That's it.

It's a simple plan.

So, tune in tomorrow for "Thankful Thursday: October Edition" and rejoice with me over the great things he has done.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The Way of Folly
The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive
and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Proverbs 9:13-18

What folly it is to entertain so many of the sinful heart behaviors that we engage in so willingly. Pride. Self-sufficiency. Bitterness. Lust. Boasting. Jealousy. Greed. Laziness. Vanity.

What folly it is to run after so many of the idols we pursue so fervently. Relationships. Approval. Comfort. Ease. The illusion of financial stability. Achievement. The praise of men.

His love is better than life itself. It is better than stolen water. It is better than bread eaten in secret. And it is certainly better than being in the depths of Sheol...

Lord, turn us from folly for the sake of your name.