Saturday, November 16, 2013

An Open Letter to My Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

I miss you.

For your sake, I could never wish you away from the beauty, joy, freedom and glory you are now experiencing in the presence of our Lord and Savior, but this one difficult reality still remains - I miss you and I always will until I, too, am in glory.

Many friends my age don't have any surviving grandparents and I feel so blessed to have had you in my life as long as I did.  I have so many fond memories with you from my childhood - watching you lead the congregation in worship every Sunday morning and evening; playing in your backyard with Tony and Hannah, running in and out of the sliding glass door in the basement while you watched baseball (or, more often, slept) in your recliner always tolerating our noisy childhood ruckus without a single word of annoyance or correction; the PILE of presents surrounding your Christmas tree every year; the smell of your suits as I would snuggle in underneath your arm during the Sunday evening sermons; trying to figure out why some of my relatives looked nothing like me and not really understanding the connection - just knowing it had something to do you with you and Grandma and how well you loved people and welcomed them into your home; seeing you at nearly every one of my athletic events whether it was sitting on the sidelines of the tennis court, cheering in the basketball stands or standing around the shot & disc rings at the track meets; and riding home from St. Cloud in that terrible fall storm while Hannah drove and you prayed us home.

I have even sweeter - and clearer - memories of you from my adult years.  I SO treasured our times together in Yuma - waking up every morning to "pre-cut" grapefruit that grew on that "special" tree in your backyard; taking the leisurely stroll with you down to Lois Haaland's house for dinner and a few rounds of Black Queen; strolling the aisles of the flea market with you, never quite "getting" it but knowing you were happy to be there; and going to dinner at 4:30 most nights (and still getting put on a waiting list!). I especially treasure the year I got to come to Yuma by myself to help you and Grandma fly home.  Our LONG dinner at Red Lobster will forever be one of the most meaningful and memorable conversations of my life as you and Grandma indulged all of my questions about how you each came to know the Lord, your journeys of faith, your understanding of who God is, your experience in the pastorate, and your relationship with each other.

But my most precious memories specifically with you, Grandpa, are from the past 3.5 years.  After Grandma passed away, I committed to calling you every Sunday.  I thought I was doing it for your sake, but I have been blessed by those conversations beyond what I could have ever imagined.  I loved our quick check-ins when you reviewed all of the Gophers, Twins and Vikings scores from the previous week and I filled you in on my travels and activities.  But even more so, I loved the occasional extended conversation when I would seek your wisdom and you would routinely tell me to pray.  I remember one conversation in particular when we spoke for over 40 minutes - I kept hashing and re-hashing a difficult decision I was making while you listened patiently and encouraged me to be in prayer.  In your wisdom, you refused to make a decision for me, repeatedly pointing me to Christ instead.  I didn't come away from that conversation with my mind made up, but I DID come away with a better understanding of what it means to seek God's wisdom before man's and to trust Him to care for me no matter what I decided to do.  I was seeking direction regarding a specific decision; you offered wisdom that applied to my whole life.

Your heart, which was always tender, has been especially visible ever since Grandma died.  Your voice cracked every week when you were trying to tell me you loved me.  Every. Single. Week.  Some days you were so moved you couldn't even speak and I would eventually just say I loved you, too, and bid goodbye to the silence.  During some of the darker days of 2011 and 2012, it meant the world to have a weekly reminder that I was loved to tears.  Our simple little routine was a consistent joy in the midst of my pervasive darkness.

I know you and Grandma would have so loved to see us girls get married and all I can say is - you set an example of godly manhood that is hard for anybody to live up to!  Our standards are high and I blame that largely on you. :-)  Your love, service and faithfulness to Grandma was a model to all of us of what a biblical marriage looks like.  67 years together - what a testament to a marriage dependent on Christ!  

The legacy of faith you have left for our family is rich - beyond my ability to ever express in words.  You were humble, gracious, generous, steadfast, dependent on the Lord, a man of conviction who knew the Word and longed for others to know it, too.  You had a love for and commitment to missions that has extended itself through each generation of our family.  You started Camp Lebanon which became one of the single greatest influences on my understanding of faith and the development of my Christian community.  You birthed my love for hymns and to this day there is nothing that speaks to my soul the way hymnody does.  You led by example, always displaying integrity in your words and actions.  You showed constant support and interest in my life, loving me unconditionally and truly enjoying my presence; you have always been one of the clearest earthly examples of how deeply and genuinely I am loved by my Heavenly Father.  I could go on and on and on.  The influence you have had on me and my family is beyond comprehension.

And it is for these reasons, and more, that I express this sentiment: I miss you.

But even more so, I rejoice because of you.  I rejoice over the blanket of blessing God put on my life when he placed me in this family.  I rejoice over the time we had with you (which was longer than most!).  I rejoice over Christ's faithfulness to you throughout a life full of joy and sorrow and the praise you gave Him in response to both.  I rejoice because that is part of what you taught me through your life - to trust God's sovereign hand, to know he cares for me and to believe he will be faithful through all of the joys and sorrows of life.

I love you to tears,
Eva Joy

Monday, April 8, 2013


My new favorite thought about friendship:

Oh, the comfort-
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
-Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Longing for God

"If I crave happiness, I will receive misery.  If I crave to be loved, I will receive rejection.  If I crave significance, I will receive futility.  If I crave control, I will receive chaos.  If I crave reputation, I will receive humiliation.  But if I long for God and His wisdom and mercy, I will receive God and wisdom and mercy."

-David Powlison, "The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls" JBC 23:2 (2005) 12.

Thankful Thursday

1656) Watching Bjorn coach a basketball game - it was fun seeing him be such an adult.
1657) The hilarity of Game Weekend including (but not limited to) Penny walking around the bleachers at a high school basketball game after escaping from my purse...
1658)...Mark making his QuizBoard name "Dingleberries" so that everyone's phone always says "You are playing with Dingleberries..."
1659)...Svea's constant baby babble...
1660)...and Hannah and Svea vying for attention. :-)
1661) Family who are friends and friends who are family.  It is hard to come to Game Weekend and not be reminded of how blessed I am.
1662) Arlene's massages.
1663) Lazy Saturdays sitting around in sweats, reading magazines and listening to Svea chatter.
1664) Beautiful Hanson family photos - Aly's talented hand at photography and 3 lovely people who I love deeply.  Choked me up!
1665) Telling stories about LP with people who grew up there.
1666) Watching the 1993 FBC Christmas Pageant.  Pure hilarity.
1667) Seeing Laurel & Warren's faces for a few sweet fleeting minutes.
1668) Penny snuggling around my neck and face all night - she cuddles with me so rarely and I love it when she does!!
1669) Family & friends who love doing the same things - games, lounging, football, food - so easy to spend time together!
1670) Telling stories and laughing with Chinwe on my drive home - always good for my heart.
1672) Seeing a chronically ill child being cared for by caring, involved parents - she already suffers so much, it is good to see her being loved and well cared for!
1674) I am thankful for a warm bed on a cold night.
1676) Sweet FB message from Em saying that she felt like I should have been there when she was hanging out with Cassie, Aly and all of their adorable babies.  So thoughtful.
1677) Started Game of Thrones - already hooked!  I love good writing.
1678) A mom who catered - so helpful when planning to cook for 25 for a whole weekend!
1681) Danae saying she would sit in a dark room all weekend if it meant she would be let out long enough to eat my cooking. :-)  So sweet.
1682) The slow burn of a good workout.
1683) Grocery shopping with Kristy - so nice to have the company & the help (especially when she picked up everything I dropped!)
1684) Good phone with Julie - having her ask several questions I have been waiting/needing to be asked.
1685) 3 lasagnas, 50 enchiladas, 3lb pasta salad & 2lb Hell's Kitchen black beans = 5+ hours of putzing in my kitchen which means a very happy evening for me!!

Humpday Listday: T5 Reasons I am Ob.sessed. with Eddie Redmayne Right Now

(Oops....a little late with this.  I just now realized it is Wednesday and it technically isn't even Wednesday anymore!  I was busy/distracted all day by friends joining me for breakfast, a tough workout at the gym and an afternoon/evening full of grocery shopping/cooking to get ready to feed 25 people at a winter getaway this coming weekend.  Oh, and, listening to Eddie Redmayne for about an hour and a half.  LOVE.  Speaking of Eddie...let me try to pinpoint where my obsession lies...)

5) His voice: He's British.  I've always loved boys with accents.
4) His face: I haven't fallen for very many ginger complexions in my life, but he is a beautiful, beautiful man.
3) His boyishness: I think his interview on Ellen sort of sealed the deal for me.  He seemed positively delighted to be there and he sat with one leg tucked up under him.  Informal.  Comfortable.  Adorable.
2) His role: Of all the characters in Les Mis, I resonate with Eponine the most, so I guess it makes sense that we would fall for the same guy.
1) His voice: Have you listened to "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" yet today?  Unbelievable.  I've listened to it six times in the last two hours and I'm still nowhere near sick of it.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

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

1621) Being given a graciously easy assignment on a day when I felt not-so-hot.
1622) Having my cute little Trisomy 21 kid with severe nurse anxiety smile and wave goodbye to me.  Made. My. Day.
1623) Two more patients expressed disappointment when they found out I either wasn't staying all night or that I wasn't coming back tomorrow.  Always such a nice compliment.
1624) Gretta is for sure coming to Mexico!!!!!!!!!!!  YAY!  I am getting more and more excited for that week.
1625) Getting to work and seeing that the secretary had written "Eva Mendes" in the "Nurse" slot on all of my patient's doors- we were laughing so hard!  I know the resemblance is striking...
1627) After emailing Pacem's phone # to my fam so they could get a hold of me in an emergency, Hannah called to ask if "just missing me" could be considered an emergency. :-)
1629) Turning off my radio as I turn the corner into Pacem's driveway, entering the silence and feeling that first inkling of peace start to creep in.
1630) Laying down within the first 10 minutes of being in my hermitage and waking up 3 hours later feeling rested and refreshed.
1631) Going to bed at 7.  Sleeping for 13 hours.
1632) Wise men with deep biblical insight on how Scripture applies to very practical things like messy relationships and depression.
1633) Catching tiny glimpses of God's redemptive work in things I have considered disasters or hardships in my life.
1634) Waking at 3am and deciding to get up and have tea with Jesus.  I am thankful he woke me and met me in that early morning hour.
1635) The beauty of a winter sunrise over a frozen lake.
1636) Bread, cheese & fruit.  Coffee & tea.  A rocking chair.  Silence.  Simplicity.  Jesus.  Pacem.
1637) Getting a small sense of "writing energy" as I wrote my Personal Statement for my Westminster app.  I don't think I've felt writing energy in almost two years now.  I know life's not all about emotions and feelings, but it WAS nice to feel a touch of that enjoyment again.
1638) A helpful reminder that God's MAIN concern for my life is not a) that I never work weekends again, b) that I remain "vested" at Mayo, c) that I never have to say "no" to something because I can't afford it, or d) that I be as comfortable as possible in all ways at all times and, therefore, these should not be MY main concerns as I consider school.
1639) Walking all the way to the main house without falling on the ice - a miracle indeed!
1640) "I am created by God.  I am his offspring; he is my Father.  I have sinned, but like the father of the prodigal son, my Father has pursued me.  He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for my sin and redeem me from the grave and the Evil One.  Now I live for the One who died for me but is alive.  I fight against sin through the power of God's Spirit, and I look forward to the day when sin and suffering are over and I see Jesus face to face."  So thankful this is my story.
1641) The Pacem staff.  There is something so serene about every interaction with them.
1642) Seeing Penny after a long weekend away.  I love that little face.
1643) My mom's laugh as she gives me tips on traveling internationally and I remind her I was last out of the country six months ago...
1645) Carrots and hummus.  My new favorite yum.
1646) My last practice meeting!  Yay!  I have loved the experience but I am also glad to be done for a while.
1647) Listening to myself speak and direct at the meeting and realizing how different I am than a year ago in how I interact with the leadership at work and how much I understand about how the system works.
1648) Having my patient's family member challengingly tell me I had big shoes to fill at the start of my shift, having him test me repeatedly and try to push my buttons and then telling me at the end of the shift that I filled them and then some.
1649) Penny's tongue.  Some days it just slays me.
1651) Step class!  I had forgotten how much I love it.  What a great workout.
1653) Pedicures.  I have THE BEST nail place.  Seriously.  The best.
1654) Trying out 3 new things for dinner, being super uncertain if any of it would turn out (since I sort of made all 3 things up) and having it all be DELICIOUS.
1655) Knowing that no matter how hard I try to imagine the depth of God's affection for me, I still come nowhere close to understanding the reality of it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Humpday Listday: T5 Movies I Could Watch Over and Over and Over....

If I could only watch 5 movies for the rest of my life, I would choose...

1) The Shawshank Redemption: This has been my all-time favorite movie for 10+ years.  I could watch it any time of any day in any mood.  It's my go-to movie when I'm sick because I can lay with my eyes closed and "watch" every scene in my mind while I listen to the dialogue (one time, in college, I put in Castaway when I wanted to lay down and close my eyes....TERRIBLE idea!!  I had to keep "peeking" to see what on earth was going on during the unending silence).  For the first time in a LONG time, this has recently been challenged as my all-time favorite movie by....

2) Les Miserables: I haven't quite made this an official #1 just because it hasn't had the longevity yet to prove itself endlessly re-watchable, but chances are GOOD.  I came hours away from seeing it in the theater three times in eight days (backed out of the third showing at the last-minute due to a day that ended up being busier than expected).  I don't buy many DVDs but I guarantee I will be getting this one the day it is released.

3) Elf: It makes me happy every. single. time.  Also, it fills both the "comedy" and the "holiday" spots on this list.

4) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: Fav rom-com.  I'm actually not a HUGE rom-com fan, but I could watch this one every day and never get sick of it.

5) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: It's epic.  And, let's be honest, I'm still a little in love with Aragorn (although I DID recently get rid of the Aragorn doll my roommates got me in steps!).  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday

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

1581) Long, fun 4-day weekends to recover from long, exhausting work weeks.
1582) Green olives.  On a hamburger.  With swiss cheese.  Yum.
1583) The way Penny burrows her nose into...anything...
1585) The darkness of the cave at Angela's house.  Best. Sleep. Ever.
1586) Swimming with my new waterproof Ipod - I have always loved the pool and now I love it even more when I can engage my mind, too!
1588) On days when it is hard for me to come up with 5 gratitude items, I look at my patients and remember to be thankful for things like being able to walk.
1589) And talk.
1590) And work.
1592) Dad getting tickets to the play-off game on Saturday....SO EXCITED!!!!!
1596) Les Mis - I'm thankful for everything about that movie.  I am thankful that it is well done and for the skill of the actors - Jackman, Hathaway and Redmayne in particular.
1597) I am thankful for the story of grace and justice told so well.
1599) I am thankful music speaks to my soul in a way few other things can.
1600) Thankful for the opportunity to go to bed at 8p!!
1601) A lovely, lazy morning (because I woke up at 5!) for drinking coffee, reading, putting together the next S&L Newsletter and snuggling with Penny
1602) Professor Blastoff - I think that podcast has made me laugh out loud - HARD - more than any other piece of media ever has.
1603) Good books on long car rides.
1604) The opportunity to go to a Vikes/Packers play-off game with my Dad and sisters.
1605) My parents' pure joy every time they get to see us.
1606) Penny's nose pressed up against my book - makes it hard to read but it is so darn cute.
1607) Clouds that look like mountains on the horizon
1608) Girls who come over to watch the Downton Abbey premiere - so fun!
1609) Knowing I have a solitude retreat quickly approaching - my heart feels so rotten and it is nice to know there is time set aside for a little reckoning!
1610) The evidences of grace in a little poodle - she seems to love me no matter what I do or say.
1611) Good writing.
1612) Beautiful sunrises over downtown Rochester.
1613) Penny's "I'm hungry" dance.
1614) Four weeks from now I'll be in Thailand!!!!!!!!!
1616) Zumba!  Went to my first class today and learned all sorts of moves my poor Baptist body never knew how to do!
1618) The joy I get from putzing in my kitchen
1620) Girls who come over for an impromptu dinner and who fill my home with laughter.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Humpday Listday: T5 Podcasts I am Listening to Right Now

I listen to a LOT of podcasts.  Most of them are good.  A couple probably need to go.  These five are my favs.  In order.
  1.  Professor Blastoff : This podcast makes me laugh harder and longer than any other podcast (or any other form of media I have ever encountered, for that matter...).  PB is hosted by three comedians (Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger) who discuss topics ranging from science to philosophy to religion to....just about anything else.  They don't love Jesus, so their discussion of religion (and most natural phenomenons) are decidedly humanistic, and yet I find even those discussions offer me great insight into how non-believers think (having grown up in a beautifully Jesus-saturated sub-culture).  I would recommend listening from Episode 1 as much of their humor is generated from running jokes that sprout organically from their conversations.  Oh man.  They are so, so, so funny.  The longer I listen, the harder I laugh.  
  2. This American Life: TAL holds a special place in my heart as the program that first hooked me on podcasting (prior to TAL, I listened to nothing but music in my I don't think I have listened to music in my car in over two years).  If you like stories/story-telling and if you find people fascinating, you will most likely enjoy this podcast.  Each week they have a theme and they present stories surrounding that theme.  There is an occasional dud, but for the most part I find it fascinating.
  3. How to Do Everything: Funny, random, light-hearted, brief - this is one of my go-to "driving around town" podcasts.  It is easy to follow even in the small, interrupted snippets that occur while running errands (Professor Blastoff and TAL are not as easily digested in small snippets considering their more conversational nature).  And I have actually learned a thing or two from Mike and Ian!  So I guess I could add "practical" to my list of adjectives, although that might be stretching it a bit....
  4. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!: A weekly news quiz show.  Light-hearted, mildly funny and sort of helps me stay up-to-date (in a very superficial, undetailed way) on some of the political and pop-culture news that I gloss over in my magazines.  This is my other go-to while driving around town.
  5. Solid Food Media sermons by R.W. Glenn: I used to listen to quite a few sermon podcasts (Bethlehem Baptist/John Piper, David Platt, Tullian Tchividjian, Rick Gamache, and Kevin Barnhart [from my church in Rochester] among others), but I have gotten out of that habit in recent years.  Although I still keep some of those updated on my ipod, the one I find myself constantly going to first is R.W. Glenn's sermons.  I was first introduced to him at the 2012 Desiring God conference and his skill and insight while preaching the Word has been good for my heart.