Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices
Who wondrous things has done
In whom this world rejoices.

Amen to that! As this treasured hymn instructs, let's thank Him on this day...

With hearts. Gratitude starts in the heart. We pause to remember the abundance of blessings He sends-- no matter what struggles and challenges we may have, there are blessings every single day if we have the eyes to see them and the heart open to receiving them.

With hands. We show our thanks with our hands when we share our blessings with others. When we push up our sleeves and serve our neighbors and those in need. Gratitude in action.

With voices. Don't just be thankful, but say it out loud. God loves to hear thankful voices. Say it in prayer. Sing it in song. Tell others of God's faithfulness and grace.

May you and your families have a truly blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GreaThings 2010 (November 24)

GreaThings 2010

Thankful for things that begin with the letter 'S' today...(do I sound like I should be on Sesame Street?)

So thankful for a Savior who offers the gift of salvation to us. For the happiness of sunshine. For the breathtaking beauty of sunsets. For the friendship and memories shared with my sister. For the example of the faithful saints who have gone before us. For silliness that keeps us light-hearted. And for deep, serious conversations. For anything sweet that I can eat-- chocolate, cookies, pies, cake, anything will do. For the beauty of simplicity. For the joy of singing. For a warm soup on a winter day. For the wonder of a glittering night sky.

And right now, for the anticipation of a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GreaThings 2010 (November 23)

GreaThings 2010

Today's theme for GreaThings is the letter 'G'...

I'm thankful for a God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies. For the gift of today. For opportunities to grow and learn throughout life. For giggling uncontrollably with my coworkers in the midst of a busy day at work. For good books with a cup of tea. For the beauty and delight of gardens. For the amazing relationships with my girlfriends, online and in person. For His grace that flows from above into our lives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GreaThings 2010

GreaThings 2010

Unfortunately I'm joining on the last few days of this blog event, but I LOVE the idea behind it. For the past two weeks, these bloggers have been publicly sharing their blessings as they count down to Thanksgiving. The posts are beautiful testimonies to God's goodness in our lives when we open our eyes to see it. Thank you, Chantel, for hosting this!

Today's theme was Special lessons God has taught you this year.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this one. This past year has held so many lessons for me-- sometimes I was a willing student and sometimes I just wanted to skip a day in the school of life.

But looking back now...I'm so grateful for the lessons.

I've learned that humans are incredibly resilient.

I've learned that "where the mind goes, the man follows."

I've learned that the devil knows this, and he will make the mind his battlefield.

I've learned that God's grace truly is sufficient; and that when we are weak, He is strong.

I've learned that God does not send us suffering; rather He allows it and then weeps with us and comforts us.

I've learned that joy, trust, faith, and hope are not emotions, but choices.

I've learned that I am like the Pharisees when I focus more on becoming better than on God's forgiveness.

I've learned that I can become so focused on doing God's work that I lose sight of God Himself.

I've learned that forgiving love is one of the most powerful kinds of love.

I've learned that we are all broken, but many people hide it well.

I've learned that our choices have consequences, but we serve a God who knows how to "work all things for good."

I've learned that not everyone can understand each other, but we can still offer a helping hand, a kind word, or a prayer to those in need.

I've learned in a deeper way that relationships with family and friends are amazing gifts to be treasured and nurtured.

I've learned in a deeper way that God can one moment seem so incomprehensibly above and beyond our imaginations-- a sacred mystery...and in another moment seem so comfortingly close, understanding us because He created us and His Son became one of us.

I've learned in a deeper way that He never, ever lets go of me-- and that I never, ever want to let go of Him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coffee Shop Prayers

Once upon a Sunday I was lounging at the coffee shop with several books and a mug of my Hot Cinnamon Spice tea.

As I sipped my tea, I noticed a few customers seated at a table, deep in conversation. It reminded me of times in the past when I'd met with friends at a quaint restaurant or coffee shop to catch up. To share the ups and downs of our lives. To rejoice, lament, and laugh with each other. Leaving full of encouragement, comfort, and inspiration. A bond is formed and strengthened.

I thought of what a difference there is between spending time with a friend in a coffee shop and saying hello to a friend in the grocery store.

When I see a friend in the grocery store, it brings a smile to my face (unless I am sneaking through with no makeup and lounge pants!). I chat only for a moment but it can brighten my mood just to see them and remember them.

But it lacks the depth of the coffee shop times.

The more you spend time with someone and the deeper the conversation, the closer you grow.

All relationships.

Including one with our God.

Sometimes my prayers are like a hello in the grocery. I think of the Lord randomly throughout the day. It brightens my mood remembering He's there. I ask for His help in a quick prayer or lift up those around me in prayer.

But if I don't set aside specific time to meet with Him in prayer, my relationship lacks depth. I need my coffee shop time with Him. To have a heart-to-heart conversation and lay it all out before Him. To praise, rejoice, lament, and even laugh.

When I remove distractions, when I quiet and open my heart, when I go deeper in my time with Him...

We grow closer. The bond between Savior and sinner, Father and child, is strengthened. I leave with comfort, encouragement, or inspiration.

The devil knows this. And he will do everything he can to keep us from that quiet time. Distracting us with all the things on our to-do list in the morning. Keeping us rushed and busy during the day so we are too tired in the evening.

The quick "grocery store" prayers throughout the day are wonderful because they connect us to and remind of of God's presence. But we need to set aside quality "coffee shop" time for Him in order to go deeper and grow closer. He wants to hear the ups and downs of our lives.

He is always, always ready to meet with us.

We just need to accept the invitation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Dear Sister

"Sisterhood is powerful." -Robin Morgan

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." -Marion C. Garretty

"Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there." -Amy Li

"How do people make it through life without a sister?" -Sara Corpening

"When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?" -Pam Brown

"Sisters are for sharing laughter and wiping tears." -Anonymous

"Good or bad, distant or apart, sisters are tuned into each other with an uncanniness that baffles outsiders." -Barbara Mathias

"You know full well as I do the value of sisters' affections to each other: there is nothing like it in this world." -Charlotte Bronte

Happy birthday, Kendra!

Monday, November 15, 2010

...And The Gift of Today

While the sorrow of death points me toward the hope of heaven, it also leads me to be grateful for the gift of today.

Earlier this summer during my recovery from surgery, I read the fascinating and convicting book Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent. It's an incredible, true story of a upper class couple and their relationship with a homeless man (I should actually do a separate review on this book-- it totally deserves it and I definitely recommend it!).

In the book, one of the homeless men at the shelter where the Halls volunteer shares the reason for his good mood: "I woke up," he says with a smile. The Hall couple then begins the tradition each morning of being grateful they woke up, of taking a moment to appreciate being alive another day.

It's such a simple thing. To wake up in the morning.

But when you really think about it...

It's a miracle.

None of us are guaranteed another day when we go to sleep at night. When we wake to a new day, it's truly a gift.

I've begun to make this a habit of being grateful that "I woke up" in the mornings. It's amazing how a day can look so different with this perspective. Instead of grumbling, thoughts of to-do lists, and worries, there's a joy and a delight in simply being alive for another day. An awe and a gratitude for a fresh, blank slate on which to write the day.

Try it with me. Tomorrow morning, receive the 'gift of today.' Be thankful you woke up.

Then give a gift back to God by the way you live your day.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Hope of Heaven...

I stepped out of my car at the funeral home last week and felt the tears threatening before I even got to the door.

Another death this year. Another life cut short.

First, my seventeen year old cousin in a car accident. Creative, sensitive, an animal lover and a gardener. Leaving a hole in his family that can never be filled.

Then, a twenty-six year old prospective roommate and a co-worker of my brother's. Beautiful, vibrant, shining with love for Christ, and a kindred spirit. Her simple cough turned out to be widespread lung cancer.

Now, the dad of three dear friends. Battling esophageal cancer for a year. Praying the night he died, one of his daughters at his side.

As I talked with his daughter E. at the funeral home, she inspired me with her trust in the Lord during this time. She shared with me little details of how God is providing for them even now. How their faith is giving them comfort and strength.

I'm learning that some things in life have no earthly answer for why they happen. We live in a fallen world.

But rather than turning to despair from the lack of answers, there's a different path.


Hope that there is One who is in control. Who sees the bigger picture. Who weeps with us and pulls us closer to Him if we let Him. Who asks us to trust that He will bring good from pain.

And there's the hope of more. Of more than this life only.

There's "the hope of heaven."

I love that phrase.

It reminds me to look up, to look beyond, in faith. To remember that this life is temporary, but an eternity awaits with an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God. Where heartache and loss and tears are only a memory.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day-- Praying for our Heroes

Loving Father,

Please bless the veteran soldiers of America on this day. We are so grateful for the many sacrifices they have made and continue to make in defending our beautiful country. They have endured much for our freedom. Protect them this day from the forces of evil-- both physical and spiritual. Pour out Your strength and grace upon them. Be with their families and loved ones, and bless them for their great sacrifice as well. We pray for those veterans who have given their lives in battle and for their families. We pray for those veterans who gave a part of their life by their service in the past. We pray for those veterans who continue to give of their lives by their service today.
We ask for courage for ourselves, to honor their service by fighting for our country in whatever way we can at home.


And Lord, please especially protect that soldier who still has a special place in my heart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Uprooting Pride

I found myself the other day sending up a prayer for a decision I was trying to make.

It was one of those prayers that just happens, without much thought to it, while I'm going about my day. A quick mental whisper while I am busy with another task.

"Help me not to make a mistake in my choice."

And then I paused.

Something seemed askew with that spontaneous prayer. "Not to make a mistake." Something all-too-familiar was behind that phrase.


That nasty thing called Pride.

Oh, sure, it seemed harmless enough that I was asking for help. Admirable, even, to include God with my decision-making. Yet I wondered, am I really more concerned with what He wants or about making a mistake? Am I more worried about the good of my soul or about feeling regret?

Someone once told me that perfectionism and pride are one and the same. That perfectionism is a pretty term we use for pride.

Perfectionism is all about not making a mistake. So is pride.

Pride reminds me of the spearmint in my old garden. If you've grown spearmint, you know how deeply it grows and what a stronghold it creates! It would overtake my garden every year. I would root it out again and again, only to find later a new sprout from deeper roots that I had missed.

Pride will pop up again and again. Just when we think we've rooted it out of our hearts, it sprouts in an attitude, a judgment-- even a prayer! Only with God's help can we truly uproot it and plant the seeds of humility.

And I have this humbling feeling that it's going to take a lifetime!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


"God is not a deceiver, that He should offer to support us, and then, when we lean upon Him, should slip away from us."

-St. Augustine

Amen. He is faithful. He is my rock.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Flavors

My friend Evangeline loves to tease me about my delight for the seasons.

I absolutely love the changing of seasons. And I love the colors, the activities, the decorations, and the food that go along with them.

Especially the food.

Fall has some of my favorite flavors-- apples, pumpkin, and cinnamon. I've been baking and cooking with these items a lot the past month (even pretending to be a pioneer woman and getting pumpkin puree and roasted pumpkin seeds from what used to be the decoration on my table!). I realized I haven't shared a recipe in the two years this blog has been going. So to remedy that...

Andrea and I put together this Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili last weekend. It was wonderful to come back from an afternoon out to a delicious aroma and warm comfort food. Mmmmm.

Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili
From Deborah Vliet/Taste of

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
2 TBS olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion and yellow pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook a little longer. Transfer to a 5 quart slow cooker; stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Peek Into My Week

YLCF is once again hosting a blog carnival-- A Peek into Your Week. It's such a great way to meet other young women and fellow bloggers! I'm inspired by the beautiful variety of lives yet all with the common bond of following Jesus. If you're not already involved, you can click on the link below to join in the fun.

YLCF Blog Carnival

I used to have all sorts of to-do lists and lots of structure and schedules in my life, but in the past couple of years I've cut out a lot of things. I'm learning to slow down and just 'be' rather than 'do.' Trying to "be a Mary in a Martha world." And finding more peace because of it! Nonetheless, here's a peek into my week...

-spent time with my mom and sister organizing my bedroom and closet at the happy little duplex my friend and I rent from my parents. We have a girl from church coming to live with us, so I'm making room to welcome her. :)

-spent some afternoon time in prayer with Jesus at the Adoration chapel at church. People are there praying 24 hours a day, Sunday through Friday. Absolutely beautiful.

-went to the library, one of my homes away from home. Used their laptops, perused the newest issue of Country Woman, said hello to a friend from work and discovered we are both bookworms. :)

-called and talked with my mom for awhile. I'm in the midst of heartache after the breakup of a relationship, and sometimes you just need your mom!

-Enjoyed a day of sleeping in; I couldn't believe the clock said 9:12am!

-Ate pumpkin oatmeal with my roomie Andrea while watching Rachael Ray.

-volunteered at the local homeless shelter/soup kitchen. What a touching experience. Today there were a couple families with young children. And the conversations with the two young men while they waited in line for seconds. And the lady who was so very grateful for the food, thanking us so graciously. And the man who wanted "service with a smile," making me wonder if they sometimes want the smile as much as the food.

-Voice lesson with my dear teacher and friend. She is going through a tough time as well but we still find a song to sing.

-Mass at the nursing home. This too is a touching experience. The faithful residents in their wheelchairs. The couples holding hands. The way Father Todd is so kind and authentic to each one of them. When he went around during the sign of peace and shook their hands, it reminded me of Jesus in the Gospels, going around healing and giving hope, looking at each person individually, letting them know they were valuable.

-Voting! I was so grateful to the local pro-life organization for printing a list of pro-life candidates in the paper. I'm a one-issue voter in that case and not ashamed! Without life, there aren't too many other issues. ;)

-Supper with the family and joining them for one of the few TV shows we enjoy, The Biggest Loser, motivating us to have a healthy lifestyle.

-Working in the Cardiology department. On Wednesdays I take care of patients coming in for a doctor visit. I'll take their vital signs, talk with them about their symptoms, educate them, and schedule any tests the doctor orders. I also work on analyzing the EKG strips from heart monitors that patients wear.

-The evening will likely include a supper of leftovers, a walk around the neighborhood, and cozy candles lit while I snuggle on the couch with some good books!

-Working in Cardiology. On Thursdays I work in the stress testing room. We do different types of stress tests (treadmill or medication) to determine how patients' hearts work under stress and if they have blockage in their arteries. I love this part of my job and I love working with the patients.

-In the evening is a memorial Mass at church for all those who have died this year. My seventeen-year-old cousin died tragically in a car accident this summer. My family is planning on going to the service to support my uncle and aunt and their family.

-Once again, a Cardiology day. On Fridays, I'm the only nurse in the department, so it makes for a busy day of stress tests, taking calls, and tying up loose ends for the weekend.

-Friday night, it's girlfriend time! My friend Kacie just had her 30th birthday this week, so she and I are going to our mutual friend Kari's house for a fun night of highlighting our hair! I chose a caramel color that is supposed to go with medium to dark brown hair. We'll see!

Saturday and Sunday
-No plans at this point. I'm still adjusting to not spending time with Grant, but thankfully others have stepped in and kept me company with love and laughter. I'm seeking the Lord in this time as well, holding onto Him for comfort and growth, and finding joy in the other blessings of life for now. Some options for this weekend include:

-Visiting my dear 94-year-old neighbor Vivian. She is sharp and witty and an absolute delight. Last time I brought my crochet projects and worked on them while we chatted.

-Cleaning and organizing the duplex. Helping Emily move in. Cooking and planning meals for the week. (We're pretty low-key about this. Often a meal or two will last us the week with leftovers; salads or sandwiches work well for lunches.)

-Visiting the local coffee shop, one of my new haunts. They have a tea called Hot Cinnamon Spice that is just perfect for fall. I feel like a city girl going to coffee shops and ordering my usual "One Tall Hot Cinnamon Spice tea." (for the record, I'm a country girl through and through ;)

-I like to spend time with my family on Sunday since it's not only a day of rest and worship, but also a day of coming together as a family.

-Going to church, of course. :) One of my aunts has been talking about wanting to come back to church. I'd like to invite her this week and go out to breakfast afterwards with her and my family.

And there is a peek into my week! Thank you so much for visiting! Blessings on you as you continue through the carnival!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Life is beautiful...

- when the leaves crunch under my feet after a refreshing stroll.

- when I enjoy a homemade breakfast of pumpkin oatmeal during my favorite cooking show, Rachael Ray.

- when Father Todd reaches out a hand to the residents at the nursing home Mass today, one by one, calling them by name, looking so very much like the Jesus in the Gospels.

- when a hug and a kiss from my voice teacher convey her empathy as we both continue our journeys in the midst of struggle.

- when a woman at the soup kitchen today says she doesn't mind what I serve her, that she's just grateful for whatever we give her.

- when two others from the soup kitchen chat with me and another worker, bridging the gap between those serving and those being served.

- when I am able to cast my votes today, to be a part, however small, in bringing our beloved country back to the morals and values it was founded on.

- when my brother lays a comforting hand on my shoulder, silently showing his care amd reminding me of the amazing bond of family.

- when the sun falls just behind the trees at eventide, melting into the horizon and leaving a golden glow that warms my soul.

-when we realize that all the good and beauty and wonder in this life is but a reflection of the One who created it all, and that He wants to be in an intimate relationship with us, now and forever.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giving Him the Pieces

I'm so grateful that The Pain is not constant because when it comes, it's almost unbearable.

On an hour-long drive home this weekend, It was bound to find it's way to the surface. And as the suffocating wave crashed over me, tears flowed from the depths. The overwhelming desire to call him, to hear his voice, was fighting reason and willpower.

So I turned on the radio.

The beginning strains of Amy Grant's "Better Than a Hallelujah" were playing. And I was reminded so beautifully...

"The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a hallelujah."

Sometimes I feel so very human. So limited. So unable to take hold of more than one day at a time, but instead having to focus on the present moment and give the rest to God.

Maybe that's exactly where He wants me.

This lack of control finds me leaning more on Him, letting go when my fragile mind can't figure it out. It finds me resting in His mercy and love, trusting in His power and goodness to cover and heal my weakness and sin.

The finite seeking the Infinite.

The weak needing the Strong.

The child reaching to the Father.

Yes, I think this is right where He wants me. My choices may have brought me here, but His grace is bringing good from it even now.

Just like He promised (Romans 8:28).