loss, faith, & celebration.

i’m a new year’s girl; there’s no disputing it. it’s not about resolutions (which i love) or being over christmas (impossible), or even the countdown to my impending birthday (christmas + the new year + my birthday = a trifecta of goodness). it’s the fresh canvas…the newness…the hope of what’s to come.

last year was the first year in a long time that the new year came & went, and i didn’t pay it much attention. ditto for my birthday. i actually kind of dreaded both of them; my heart just wasn’t ready to celebrate. when i am most honest, when i looked out to the 2014 that was ahead of us, i was anxious, scared, & desperately wanted to wish it away.

you see, just one week before christmas the year before (2013), we had an appointment that confirmed that the abdominal surgeries i have had in my life have done permanent damage that would not allow us to get pregnant. we were told that IVF would be our only option for trying to have a baby and that there would be a number of things that would need to fall into place in order for that to even be a possibility.

for a girl who had spent most of her childhood boasting that she was going to have 14 kids and most of her adult life thinking there was good reason to scale back just a little but still dreamt of a big family, the news was devastating.

to put it simply, 2014 was not my best year. it started out tough (lots of tears on new year’s day & we went to an IVF info session on my birthday), and it felt pretty awful more often than i’d like to admit. however, for all the hard stuff it brought, 2014 was undeniably a really important year. (do not be fooled – there were no rainbows & sunshine. remember the new year’s & birthday dreading?) in my heart, i knew it would be a long year.

early on i remember admitting that i had a deep sense that it would be a year of mountain-top-highs and deep-valley-lows. that could not have been more true. there was sadness, loss, heartache, and grieving that i still can’t quite put to words, yet there was sweetness, too. it was a year marked throughout with wonderful celebrations of my husband – things he worked incredibly hard for, and celebrating him was wonderful, with our first wedding anniversary, with deepened relationships that brought healing, and with words spoken over me & us by people that have been relentless & intentional about sticking right by our sides through everything.

the Lord is tender like that. He knows about the heartache & loss & sadness, and He carries us through. He gives us strength in ways we never though possible. He brings beauty from ashes.

although i closed the door on 2014 with a bit more gusto than other years and am deeply thankful for a new year, 2014 was – and still is – a formative year for me. in the way that only challenges & grieving do, i was faced with questions, fears, and decisions that helped me dig deeper into my faith, priorities, and dreams. i was invited to sit in hard places with people that love me & know me – people that reminded me i wasn’t alone, encouraged me, and supported me. we have a little tribe of people that continue to pray us through doctor’s appointments, procedures, and decisions…offer to come to doctor’s appointments…and text, call, send cards, and shower us with love – in person & across state lines. through it all, i can honestly look back on 2014 with a thankful heart – holding all of the joys & all of the sorrows – knowing that i & we could not be in this place today without what we came through. i know a greater depth of the strength the Lord through me, i know His character more intimately, our marriage is stronger, and our faith in the Lord’s provision, nearness, and grace is even stronger.

to bring things full circle, 10 days before this past christmas (2014), after a year of appointments, waiting, procedures, and more waiting, we got the news we had been hoping & praying for – one of the biggest pieces in our journey to IVF fell into place. with hopeful anticipation, we scheduled our last two appointments for January 2nd, and got ready to celebrate 2015. this year, i was ready to celebrate again. not because we got good news (although that was certainly a big part of it) but because we had come so far.

and celebrate we did. we even managed an extra fun celebration a few days before my birthday when we officially got our IVF protocol & found out that we could start our first cycle of IVF the next week! i think we both floated out of the doctor’s office that day! then my husband planned the sweetest birthday for me, and we got to sit and revel in the glory & grace of it all.

i wouldn’t have ever willingly chosen the path that we have been on for the past year, but i know that i know that i know that God is with us in it. i know that our babies are being fought for with every shred of our beings & that one day we will tell them the story of how we longed for them & loved them well before we ever knew them.

this isn’t easy to share, but i genuinely believe that each our stories matter. over this past year, it’s been the voices of women & my incredible spiritual dad (who walked this road with his daughter, Nicole) who have been down this awful infertility road that have brought me comfort, relief, and encouragement – blogs, conversations with the dearest friends, and even instagram posts. although each journey is unique and personal, there is a shared ache & hope that knits us all together. for that reason alone, i want to share our experience. because if it offers hope, encouragement, or makes just one person feel a little less alone, that’s all that matters.

[i’ll recount what our first few days have been like & our first check-up (which is tomorrow – Monday – morning) in the next post.]

holding hope

gratitude, day 17.

gratitude_xsgratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for people to list something they are grateful for each day in november, this isn’t really that. it’s sort of my mash-up of a daily writing exercise i see people do every day in october paired with practicing gratitude. it won’t be the same every day. sometimes it will be a short, quick post, and other times it will be a reflection or recipe. but most importantly, every day there will be gratitude.

today, i am grateful for my health.

first salad 2011

if you could please excuse my very white hot filter & “sweet” frame on the picture above, i would be so grateful. because the truth is, even with as cheesy as it is, it’s truly an image that has been burned into my memory forever. i took this picture on New Year’s Eve 2011 right before settling in with a movie and a simple yet indescribably memorable dinner. that year, as we all ushered in 2012, i was gleefully turning the page from 2011 to 2012 full of hopeful expectation. after a number of years spending far more hours at doctors’ offices & in the hospital, with medications & on restricted diets (gah – no salad!), i had finally been doctor & hospital free for nine straight months, and there was no turning back. this bare bones salad & wine was my stake in the ground: goodness, wholeness, health.

these days, there isn’t a day that goes by on which there isn’t at least one moment of gratitude for my health. dustin’s work reminds me daily of the grueling reality for patients & families dealing with long term health conditions. the friend of a good friend was diagnosed earlier this year with ALS at just 30 years old. another friend’s cousin is walking through the nightmare of cancer & the tidal wave of havoc it is wreaking on her.

every story is unique, and every story both breaks my heart & reminds me of the depth of strength in each of us. i am reminded of this image & quote i found on pinterest two years ago:

the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. - ernest hemingway

*image & quote (below) from ohpioneer!

“the world breaks everyone, and afterward,
some are strong at the broken places.”
– ernest hemingway

gratitude, day 1.  ::  gratitude, day 2.  ::  gratitude, day 3.  ::  gratitude, day 4.  ::  gratitude, day 5.
gratitude, day 6.  ::  gratitude, day 7.  ::  gratitude, day 8.  ::  gratitude, day 9.  ::  gratitude, day 10.
gratitude, day 11. :: gratitude, day 12. :: gratitude, day 13. :: gratitude, day 14. :: gratitude, day 15.
gratitude, day 16.

gratitude, day 11.

This gallery contains 25 photos.

gratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for … Continue reading

10 things: 03.2013.

10things_witness

  1. our community is incredibly kind, generous, & encouraging.
  2. i got as close to tears* as i have so far with wedding stuff when the girls picked, to try on, what they ultimately chose as their bridesmaid dress.
    *i get ridiculously happy & excited but, oddly, haven’t cried yet. still baffles me…
  3. it was SO fun to have a whole weekend with alli & joy (even tho i ruined the surprise for joy’s visit).
  4. celebrating dustin’s birthday was such a such a simple, special, fun day. and i get to celebrate him for all of his birthdays for the rest of his life. rock on!
  5. we celebrated my 2nd hospital-free-iversary!
  6. we broke below 100 days until the wedding. eeeeek! :o)
  7. it was our first Easter together. Good Friday at OD, Easter at UR.  so blessed.
  8. all four of the of the celebrations above were wonderfully timed to hit every other day for the last week of the month. such an awesome way to celebrate out of march & into april.
  9. loving this article from shane claiborne: what if jesus meant all that stuff?
  10. we learned that registering is way more draining than we ever imagined. what a well kept secret…

words with power & of peace: 2 years.

last week was full of rich celebrations. and they were so well timed – something every other day :o) we kicked things off with dustin’s birthday on monday, and wednesday brought us to my 2nd hospital-free-iversary. what a gift march 26th became two years ago. today’s post is long, but it’s an important one to me, so i hope you don’t mind.

on december 15, 2010, i gleefully checked into the u of m surgery center. early mornings are not really my thing, but this morning was different. this morning, i was checking in for my 7th – and hopefully final – visit to the operating room in 15 months. i would have hugged every single person helping mom & me that morning if it would have been appropriate.

previous visits to my beloved hospital (not a drop of sarcasm here – i absolutely love & am deeply grateful & thankful for the people there) ranged from exams under anesthesia to much more intensive surgeries. the longest stay i had had was six days, but there had been lots & lots of recovery time at home. and lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting. it had truly been 15 months of waiting after 23 months of not knowing what was wrong in the first place (which, not surprisingly, included lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting…).

that special morning, i was getting put back together & would be done with the ileostomy. needless to say, i was pumped.

the surgery went well. i remember waking up in the recovery area, gently feeling my abdomen: bag free. praise Jesus! after all of my surgeries i had always been placed on the same floor, and a benefit of my frequent visits was that i quickly grew to love the nurses, aides, & support staff. so when i was wheeled up to my room that afternoon, all put back together, we had a bit of a celebration. glory, glory!

unfortunately, the next few days went downhill pretty quickly. when all was said & done, i was in the hospital for 15 days (including christmas)…and then back 3 more times. i think i was in for 50-some days. as you could imagine, there was lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting. it was the most physically & emotionally tiring experience i have gone through. yet, as our Gracious Father would have it, it was also one of the most spiritually rich seasons i’ve ever experienced. there isn’t a day that has gone by in the past two years that i haven’t paused to thank God – even briefly, but often much more deeply – for my health.

over the three & a half years, i often wished i was able to journal more about it, but no matter how much i wanted to, i couldn’t. what i did, thankfully, manage to get on paper, though, were marking moments & advice from loved ones. for the past two years, on this very special anniversary, i go back & re-read those journal entries. it’s an incredible blessing to see the power those words had to move me into a new place at that time & to realize the power & peace they still have today.

  1. a dear friend introduced me to the process of Biblical lamenting, based on Psalms 13 and 28. it’s a process that begins with addressing God, describing your need or pain, affirming your trust in God, prayer for help or deliverance, and ends with praise to God for who He is. as personal & intimate as my relationship with God was and, further, with as deep as i could imagine it ever getting, i would never have imagined that God would approve of my lamenting. at the time, in my head, lamenting was on par with pouting. if God is God of the universe & had a good & perfect plan for me, what right did i have to lament to Him about it? obviously i had a lot to learn; this process continues to bring light to deep places in my heart.
  2. i read shauna’s latest (at that time) blog post. she’s one of my very favorite writers & has a way of striking a deep chord in me. her post, on asking for help, changed my perspective on how i’d been handling the doctor’s appointments, procedures, surgeries, recovery – everything. in my wanting to be strong & handle everything like a champ, i wasn’t allowing people who love & care for me the opportunity to love & care for me. i will work on this one for a long time. somewhere in me is a need to be the strong one & “keep it together.” but letting others in can be so freeing, and allowing others to do what they love & do best is a win-win for everyone!
  3. i went with my new philosophy (above) when one of my mentors called to check in on me, and i had been having a tough day. when she called, i was actually driving home, feeling particularly discouraged, tears streaming down my face. i was honest about fears i was wrestling with, and, after saying some wonderful, encouraging, grace-giving things, she said, “i don’t know how Biblical this is, but i feel like maybe you can just let us pray for you. let us hold you up.” enter: paradigm shift. to think that God would be ok with me not praying wasn’t something i’d ever considered. in all honesty, i had been feeling utterly exhausted of prayers, and that made me feel like i was failing Him. but our loving God draws a tribe around us specifically to love, refine, & pray for us.  He knows that we are weak, and He allows those around us to be His hands & feet in these times.
  4. one night, while i was praying before bed, i noticed that my whole body was tense; my hands were completely clenched tight. i bet i had been praying like that a lot: speaking words of trust, faith, & hope, braced for “what if?” probably trying to holding on to each truth so none of them could slip away. God sweetly reminded me to take a deep breath, relax, & open my hands. i returned to my focus verse, hebrews 11:1, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see.” to this day, i focus on these three things while i’m praying, & i always, always make sure my hands are relaxed & open when i fall asleep.
  5. i think it was the day after Christmas that a close friend came to visit and, as she was leaving, i asked if she could help me get up so i could go for a walk.  walking was the single thing that I could do to try to coax my body to get better, so I walked laps around the nurses’ stations as often as possible. she asked how many laps i was going to do, and i said, quite decidedly, “seven! i haven’t had a plan for my laps before, but this is my Jericho, right?!” from that walk on, i kept track of my walks.i told a few people about my new plan, including one of my mentors, and she promptly responded that the Israelites actually marched around the walls of Jericho thirteen times before they fell. well, wouldn’t you know that it was after my thirteenth lap that i was discharged from the hospital (that first time)!
  6. the only time i actually journalled from the hospital was on what ended up being my last night there, march 26, 2011. i can still remember how raw it felt to type this entry, but i can also still vividly remember how important i knew it was to do & how healing it would be:

    as i walked the halls tonight in my routine before-bedtime walk, i kept tearing up. i blinked the tears away quickly so each nurse’s station full of nurses & aides that know me wouldn’t see, but on each straight-away, i almost fell apart.
    i’m scared to go home tomorrow. i’m so excited to be in my own house, my own bed, my own bathroom, with my own comforts & stuff…but i’m so, so scared to go home & start feeling better & get into my routine & feel normal only to end up on the bathroom floor feeling awful, again…and end up here, again.as i walked, and as i sit here typing with tears streaming down my face, i keep repeating, “God, i trust you. period. please show me that you have healed me completely. please, please let me be your example. let me be a testimony to your miraculous healing. please.” i can’t live in fear. i refuse to live in fear. i have to not only believe but live in the place where every day is a new day, and You, God, are guiding me completely. because You, God, are a God that can do infinitely more than i can hope or imagine, i am not settling for less than Your complete & total healing over my body. i will not go home for 5 days or 5 weeks & fall ill again. i will leave this hospital tomorrow, and i will not come back with these illnesses. by the blood of Jesus, i am healed, and there are no strongholds over my body, mind, or spirit. i am healed, and i will live to be an old woman, full of stories, memories & life because of what You have given me & the healing that You have made complete in me. i will live every day of my life as a testimony to Your goodness, provision, healing, miracles, & love. i will pray earnestly with thanksgiving, glorifying Your name. i am nothing without You. it is wholly due to Your spirit within me that i am able to live a life full of love, truth & grace, and i will spend all of my days learning how to honor & glorify You more truly, authentically, & intentionally. i love You more than i’ll ever ever understand. You are my God, and i am Yours completely.
  7. then there was one last entry, six days after going home, on April 1, 2011. it reminds me of three things: 1.) God’s faithfulness since before i truly knew Him, 2.) how quickly i can fall into old fears, and 3.) God’s patience & grace to set me straight again when I do:

    as I’ve been getting settled again at home, during a quiet moment this week, God brought me right back to the beginning. to the vision i had before my very first surgery [when i was 12 years old] of Him holding me. since i left the hospital six days ago, i have been wrestling the fear that caused me to fall into tears as i walked those pre-bedtime laps. fear of feeling better, but not being better. fear of getting into a routine, then ending up back at the hospital. there are no guarantees that the infection won’t come back. but i have a choice: to live each day in fear, or to live each day as if i am healed. erwin mcmanus said in his book, Chasing Daylight, “the most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices. …while moments are the context within which we live, choices chart the course and determine the destination.”

    this is one of my more important choices in life. i am choosing to live each day as though i am healed. so i find it quite fitting that in that quiet moment earlier this week, He brought to mind the image of me wrapped up in His arms.

     

there were many times when i thought that season might never end; but it did. as cliché as it sounds, it truly is a blessing to reflect, each year, on everything that happened & appreciate, humble myself, & rest in the goodness of where He brought me through it all.

words with power & of peace: 2 years

last week was full of rich celebrations. and they were so well timed – something every other day :o) we kicked things off with dustin’s birthday on monday, and wednesday brought us to my 2nd hospital-free-iversary. what a gift march 26th became two years ago. today’s post is long, but it’s an important one to me, so i hope you don’t mind.

on december 15, 2010, i gleefully checked into the u of m surgery center. early mornings are not really my thing, but this morning was different. this morning, i was checking in for my 7th – and hopefully final – visit to the operating room in 15 months. i would have hugged every single person helping mom & me that morning if it would have been appropriate.

previous visits to my beloved hospital (not a drop of sarcasm here – i absolutely love & am deeply grateful & thankful for the people there) ranged from exams under anesthesia to much more intensive surgeries. the longest stay i had had was six days, but there had been lots & lots of recovery time at home. and lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting. it had truly been 15 months of waiting after 23 months of not knowing what was wrong in the first place (which, not surprisingly, included lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting…).

that special morning, i was getting put back together & would be done with the ileostomy. needless to say, i was pumped.

the surgery went well. i remember waking up in the recovery area, gently feeling my abdomen: bag free. praise Jesus! after all of my surgeries i had always been placed on the same floor, and a benefit of my frequent visits was that i quickly grew to love the nurses, aides, & support staff. so when i was wheeled up to my room that afternoon, all put back together, we had a bit of a celebration. glory, glory!

unfortunately, the next few days went downhill pretty quickly. when all was said & done, i was in the hospital for 15 days (including christmas)…and then back 3 more times. i think i was in for 50-some days. as you could imagine, there was lots & lots of praying, hoping, & waiting. it was the most physically & emotionally tiring experience i have gone through. yet, as our Gracious Father would have it, it was also one of the most spiritually rich seasons i’ve ever experienced. there isn’t a day that has gone by in the past two years that i haven’t paused to thank God – even briefly, but often much more deeply – for my health.

over the three & a half years, i often wished i was able to journal more about it, but no matter how much i wanted to, i couldn’t. what i did, thankfully, manage to get on paper, though, were marking moments & advice from loved ones. for the past two years, on this very special anniversary, i go back & re-read those journal entries. it’s an incredible blessing to see the power those words had to move me into a new place at that time & to realize the power & peace they still have today.

  1. a dear friend introduced me to the process of Biblical lamenting, based on Psalms 13 and 28. it’s a process that begins with addressing God, describing your need or pain, affirming your trust in God, prayer for help or deliverance, and ends with praise to God for who He is. as personal & intimate as my relationship with God was and, further, with as deep as i could imagine it ever getting, i would never have imagined that God would approve of my lamenting. at the time, in my head, lamenting was on par with pouting. if God is God of the universe & had a good & perfect plan for me, what right did i have to lament to Him about it? obviously i had a lot to learn; this process continues to bring light to deep places in my heart.
  2. i read shauna’s latest (at that time) blog post. she’s one of my very favorite writers & has a way of striking a deep chord in me. her post, on asking for help, changed my perspective on how i’d been handling the doctor’s appointments, procedures, surgeries, recovery – everything. in my wanting to be strong & handle everything like a champ, i wasn’t allowing people who love & care for me the opportunity to love & care for me. i will work on this one for a long time. somewhere in me is a need to be the strong one & “keep it together.” but letting others in can be so freeing, and allowing others to do what they love & do best is a win-win for everyone!
  3. i went with my new philosophy (above) when one of my mentors called to check in on me, and i had been having a tough day. when she called, i was actually driving home, feeling particularly discouraged, tears streaming down my face. i was honest about fears i was wrestling with, and, after saying some wonderful, encouraging, grace-giving things, she said, “i don’t know how Biblical this is, but i feel like maybe you can just let us pray for you. let us hold you up.” enter: paradigm shift. to think that God would be ok with me not praying wasn’t something i’d ever considered. in all honesty, i had been feeling utterly exhausted of prayers, and that made me feel like i was failing Him. but our loving God draws a tribe around us specifically to love, refine, & pray for us.  He knows that we are weak, and He allows those around us to be His hands & feet in these times.
  4. one night, while i was praying before bed, i noticed that my whole body was tense; my hands were completely clenched tight. i bet i had been praying like that a lot: speaking words of trust, faith, & hope, braced for “what if?” probably trying to holding on to each truth so none of them could slip away. God sweetly reminded me to take a deep breath, relax, & open my hands. i returned to my focus verse, hebrews 11:1, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see.” to this day, i focus on these three things while i’m praying, & i always, always make sure my hands are relaxed & open when i fall asleep.
  5. i think it was the day after Christmas that a close friend came to visit and, as she was leaving, i asked if she could help me get up so i could go for a walk.  walking was the single thing that I could do to try to coax my body to get better, so I walked laps around the nurses’ stations as often as possible. she asked how many laps i was going to do, and i said, quite decidedly, “seven! i haven’t had a plan for my laps before, but this is my Jericho, right?!” from that walk on, i kept track of my walks.i told a few people about my new plan, including one of my mentors, and she promptly responded that the Israelites actually marched around the walls of Jericho thirteen times before they fell. well, wouldn’t you know that it was after my thirteenth lap that i was discharged from the hospital (that first time)!
  6. the only time i actually journalled from the hospital was on what ended up being my last night there, march 26, 2011. i can still remember how raw it felt to type this entry, but i can also still vividly remember how important i knew it was to do & how healing it would be:

    as i walked the halls tonight in my routine before-bedtime walk, i kept tearing up. i blinked the tears away quickly so each nurse’s station full of nurses & aides that know me wouldn’t see, but on each straight-away, i almost fell apart.
    i’m scared to go home tomorrow. i’m so excited to be in my own house, my own bed, my own bathroom, with my own comforts & stuff…but i’m so, so scared to go home & start feeling better & get into my routine & feel normal only to end up on the bathroom floor feeling awful, again…and end up here, again.as i walked, and as i sit here typing with tears streaming down my face, i keep repeating, “God, i trust you. period. please show me that you have healed me completely. please, please let me be your example. let me be a testimony to your miraculous healing. please.” i can’t live in fear. i refuse to live in fear. i have to not only believe but live in the place where every day is a new day, and You, God, are guiding me completely. because You, God, are a God that can do infinitely more than i can hope or imagine, i am not settling for less than Your complete & total healing over my body. i will not go home for 5 days or 5 weeks & fall ill again. i will leave this hospital tomorrow, and i will not come back with these illnesses. by the blood of Jesus, i am healed, and there are no strongholds over my body, mind, or spirit. i am healed, and i will live to be an old woman, full of stories, memories & life because of what You have given me & the healing that You have made complete in me. i will live every day of my life as a testimony to Your goodness, provision, healing, miracles, & love. i will pray earnestly with thanksgiving, glorifying Your name. i am nothing without You. it is wholly due to Your spirit within me that i am able to live a life full of love, truth & grace, and i will spend all of my days learning how to honor & glorify You more truly, authentically, & intentionally. i love You more than i’ll ever ever understand. You are my God, and i am Yours completely.
  7. then there was one last entry, six days after going home, on April 1, 2011. it reminds me of three things: 1.) God’s faithfulness since before i truly knew Him, 2.) how quickly i can fall into old fears, and 3.) God’s patience & grace to set me straight again when I do:

    as I’ve been getting settled again at home, during a quiet moment this week, God brought me right back to the beginning. to the vision i had before my very first surgery [when i was 12 years old] of Him holding me. since i left the hospital six days ago, i have been wrestling the fear that caused me to fall into tears as i walked those pre-bedtime laps. fear of feeling better, but not being better. fear of getting into a routine, then ending up back at the hospital. there are no guarantees that the infection won’t come back. but i have a choice: to live each day in fear, or to live each day as if i am healed. erwin mcmanus said in his book, Chasing Daylight, “the most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices. …while moments are the context within which we live, choices chart the course and determine the destination.”

    this is one of my more important choices in life. i am choosing to live each day as though i am healed. so i find it quite fitting that in that quiet moment earlier this week, He brought to mind the image of me wrapped up in His arms.

     

there were many times when i thought that season might never end; but it did. as cliché as it sounds, it truly is a blessing to reflect, each year, on everything that happened & appreciate, humble myself, & rest in the goodness of where He brought me through it all.

33.

you know how some people turn 29 & hang on to that year for the rest of their birthdays?

not me. mine might be 33.

inexplicably, i have been awaiting 33 with excited, hopeful anticipation. i never knew why, but for years, whenever i thought ahead, the thought of turning 33 made my heart beat a little faster. i always, always looked forward to what would come in my 33rd year.

celebrating my birthday was incredibly special this year. in addition to celebrating on multiple occasions with my fiancé and lots of loved ones, i got to spend time reflecting on the past year and all that God has blessed me with to prepare me for this next year. reflecting on His overwhelming goodness, love, guidance, & provision has been such a gift in & of itself. being able to share it with those closest to me is like getting to open & re-open the most treasured gifts.

in celebration of my 33rd year, here are 33 things i am grateful for…

  1. our incredible Father
  2. my very best friend and forever partner in crime & adventure :)
  3. a strong, healthy body. it’s been almost 2 years!
  4. trader joe’s sea salt & turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds
  5. a warm, safe, cozy little home. granted, i’m only a visitor for the next 5.5 months (170 days…but who’s counting? ;)), but it has been a place of comfort for many years
  6. my loving family
  7. the most wonderful friends to share life with
  8. eden, eli, & tommy! i truly can’t imagine life without them, and more babies are on their way this year!
  9. a fiancé who dreams with me, loves to talk about our future – particularly starting a family one day, wants to & enjoys being involved in everything we do, cooks with me, prays with me, & absolutely treats me like a queen.
  10. soon-to-be in-laws that are so great
  11. soon-to-be nieces that are more fun that i could have imagined
  12. hoodie sweatshirts
  13. mike paschall & ms. patti. two of the most incredible people you will ever meet. and i really mean ever.
  14. the aforementioned mike’s devotionals. powerful, thought-provoking, spirit-stirring good stuff.
  15. doats. the best roomie a girl could ask for, and so generous to graciously, unconditionally open her home to me until the wedding
  16. pinterest!
  17. having a job. jobs are tricky, i think, and can be challenging, but simply having one & enjoying your co-workers is a blessing
  18. deep passions that bring great joy – most notably cooking & creating :)
  19. getting to share my passions with others
  20. being part of the most fabulous CSAs. just signed up for my 3rd year (OUR 1st :)) of produce from loon organics & 2nd season (OUR 1st :)) of meat from braucher’s sunshine harvest farm (the first 4 month 1/2 share has lasted me almost a year!)
  21. travel, a love for the world, and insatiable wanderlust. there is so much to see & do! people, cultures, God’s creation!
  22. summer berry picking…just the thought warms my heart. looking forward to trying this recipe for “christmas cheer” with some of the goodies. looks delicious!
  23. flip flops
  24. garlic & onions. the smell of them sautéing in a pan…heavenly.
  25. my mom’s incredible generosity in buying me my dream wedding dress. i never imagined it actually existed. and i really would have honestly been perfectly happy with another dress; but she insisted. how lucky am i?!
  26. coffee. lattes, more specifically.
  27. homemade chai lattes and the voice of the brilliant sara who writes the blog (sprouted kitchen) that the original recipe i use came from.
  28. grocery shopping. i know, right? but for reals – i love grocery shopping!
  29. laughter
  30. cookbooks. really good cookbooks. oh my – makes my heart go pitter-pat. i read them like novels…
  31. creativity. i would be lost without it
  32. community. there is no more rich, fulfilling, challenging, shaping, loving way to live life than in & with true community
  33. hebrews 11:1 :: now faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see

10 things: 02.12.

need to work on timeliness of posting these :o)

february, 2012

  1. i LOVE celebrating friends.  can’t wait to meet babes youngblood!
  2. i’m not a huge fan of toronto.  yet.  i’ll keep trying.
  3. this month was a toughie.
  4. i got to sign up for my very-very-very-favorite-ever CSA. again!  I’M SO EXCITED!
  5. uber excited for this, this, & this.  from a few of my favorites: her, her, & her.
  6. still camped out with caroline’s message on rest.
  7. i had the BEST valentine.
  8. being with old friends is good for the soul.  even when you’re sleep deprived & chasing 6 kids under 5 yrs old.
  9. loved this from jon acuff: “every day i find a new way to need more grace than the day before. every day God reminds me i won’t exhaust His supply.”  thankful.
  10. “it looked like death had won, but love will last forever” [wish the video was still live]

10 things: 01.12.

i have watched sarah kay‘s TED talk, “if i should have a daughter,” no less than 25 times. every time i watch it something new stands out, but one part that stood out right away & stuck in my thoughts was when she asked the audience to think of three things they know to be true.

after i thought of my three things, i wondered how my three things might change over time. later in her talk, sarah, a spoken word poetry teacher, explains that she has her students write ten things they know to be true when they are brainstorming what to write about. building on that idea, i thought it would be fun (not to mention interesting) to make a list of ten things i know to be true each month for a year to see how they change over time. it has been a really good exercise so far.

first, it was pretty cool when i found myself wondering if “this” [thought, realization, experience, feeling] would end up among the month’s top ten. it’s maybe even more cool that i continue to find myself in this place of reflection & wonder.

second, it’s a really great reminder of life’s sweet spots & challenges. it’s been good to document happenings, gratitude, & prayers.

last, but not least, it’s helping me stay true to myself. to who God has made me to be. to how He is continuing to mold me. to who He has woven into my life that bring life. to the passions He has given me that help me connect to Him and His kingdom.

i’m really excited to see how this exercise evolves over the year, and it will be super fun to look back on the lists in december!

january, 2012

  1. my tribe is incredible. i love that i get to see some regularly, i cherish reunions with those far away, and i genuinely miss those i don’t see often enough.
  2. life is precious.
  3. i have never, never been so grateful for a new year. embracing 2012…the year of grace.
  4. having sweet conversations with my brother about jesus & then being there when he found an authentic community has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.
  5. i’m independent, strong, confident, & completely capable…but i still miss my husband every day. this & this help.
  6. i love pinterest.  LOVE.
  7. sarah kay‘s spoken word poems completely resonate with & spark something in me: if i should have a daughter & how many lives can you live?
  8. i’m working on finding balance in 2012.  step one is figuring out what that even means.
  9. i’m grateful every day for my health. every. single. day.
  10. i feel most alive when i am creating, connecting with people i love, & exploring a new place.