One Thousand Gifts: A New Week

For some reason, every Monday is exciting to me.  It’s a chance to start everything afresh…a chance to start from scratch.  It’s so refreshing to have the opportunity to not waste as much time and be more productive, to live each day for Christ. 

So often, at the end of the week, I find myself wishing I could go back in time.  I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time on Facebook or watching t.v.  I wish I had gotten that chore done I needed to do, or wish I had done a better job with meal planning.  But there’s no going back, only pressing forward.

And that’s why, when Monday rolls around, I’m thankful to be able to start it all over.  I’m hopeful that the end of this week won’t find me regretting the way I spent my time so much.  And yet, I’m learning how meaningless so many things on my “to-do” list are.  I’m learning to take each day as it comes, asking God what He wants me to do in it. 

When you start a week knowing that the last one was chock full of God’s path for you, the new week becomes all the more appealing.

201. Hot chocolate on misty days.
202. Making a meal that makes me say “Mmm”. (That would be homemade stir fry. 🙂 )
203. Omelettes made by my man before I head off to work.
204. Enjoying being young and spontaneous with my best friend.
205. The peace that comes with knowing that God is watching over us.
206. Sweet hugs from kindergartners.
207. A mice-free kitchen…even when we’ve had mice in other parts of the house!
208. A man who takes care of the mice for me at 3 in the morning.
209. A weekend to relax and rejuvenate with my sweet husband.
210. For another week to let God live in me.

One Thousand Gifts: Peace in Winter


The time of year I have struggled with most since moving to Arkansas has always been Winter.  I guess it’s because I’ve always connected my emotions so closely with the changing seasons, with the sky and the green tree.  When I go outside, I am revived.  Not because I feel a connection with “Mother Earth”, but because I never feel closer to God than in His glorious creation. 

It’s so easy to see Him in Spring, Summer, and Fall, when all is green or colorful.  New life comes, lives, then starts to rest.  And there’s so much to look forward to.  Each new bud, each magical firefly, and each falling leave are wonders to me.  And then there’s all that comes with them.  Spring, when being outside once again becomes fun, and when we celebrate Easter together.  Then comes Summer, days at the creek, no school, and Fourth of July.  And then in comes Fall with all it’s wonder, bringing with it apple cider, pumpkin pies, and Thanksgiving, and with it the expectation of the Christmas season.

But then the leaves fall and Christmas passes.  Suddenly I start to notice that the trees are all bare, and that the ground is brown, not like the evergreens where I come from.  The skies here are grey and colorless, and a purple haze hovers above everything.  In Flagstaff, the skies were always bright blue and clear, even in winter.  And then there’s the cold, wet days…the chill sinking to your bones…without much snow to brighten them.  In Flagstaff it was even colder, but not the wet cold we experience here.  And there was almost always snow…lots of it. 

And suddenly I feel my emotions becoming flat, like the grey sky.  What beauty is there to rejoice in at such a time?

My sister wrote this post the other day, about where God was leading her next.  In it, she talked about the seasons.  But she didn’t describe winter as dull and flat.  She described it as a peaceful time…a time for rest and reflection.  A time to let life slow down a bit.

Reading her blog, I was struck by the beauty I miss in winter.  Yes, there is that mysterious purple haze hovering above the Ozarks, a beauty I’ve always seen, but there’s also so much more!  Why can’t I delight in the peace of this time?  Why can’t I embrace the quiet and the solitude that this season brings.  Winter is about so much more than waiting for Spring.  It’s about renewal, rest, and silence.  Just like the trees outside, my soul needs a rest toAnd that’s where Winter comes in.

191. Peaceful winter days to read, pray, and reflect.
192. Letting life slow down just a tad.
193. Cardinals that still bring their beautiful red to my bird feeder…even in winter.
194. Unexpected sunny days that remind me of where I come from.
195. The blessing of seeing our precious baby on the ultrasound.
196. Learning to trust God with the actions and hearts of others.
197. A husband who is also a good man.
198. Game night with other couples
199. A weekend spent with family.
200. Starting to notice the beginnings of a baby bump. 🙂

One Thousand Gifts: A New Year?

Seriously, where has the time gone?

I should have known that I wouldn’t have time for blogging and keeping up the house during the Christmas season.  I just thought I would.  But obviously I didn’t.

After being gone for the better part of two weeks, first spending Christmas in Arizona and California, and then  taking our college group to Passion 2012 in Atlanta, I can definitely say it’s glad to be home.  Now comes the “re-entry”, as my MIL calls it, into life.

And yet, I don’t want to go back to the same-old, same-old.  After all that’s happened, I want to be different…changed.

Lord, may you lead us as we get back to life.  Show us what we need to cut out and what we need to add.  And most of all, let us not be the same.

181. Getting to be home in our own cozy bed…for the first time in awhile.
182. The lasting memories of spending Christmas with my family.
183. The beginnings of healing.
184. Learning that being like Jesus is not being religious.
185. Spending four wonderful days getting fed…and leaving changed.
186. Getting to have my sister here for a visit…knowing that the next may be awhile away.
187. A baby sister who turned eighteen on Saturday.  Can this be true?
188. Knowing that there is a miraculous life within me.
189. Not caring about the “inconveniences” that pregnancy brings, but instead being happy to take them on for the sake of my growing babe.
190. Having a husband who I can follow, no matter what…and who doesn’t want to live the same old way either.

And lest you ask for pictures and updates on baby, more is coming…soon.  I have so much to share with you about our time out west and back east!  So stay tuned! Baby Baker is nine weeks along now and my first doctors appointment is tomorrow, so I expect you’ll be hearing more in the next few days.

God bless in this upcoming week, and as you enter this new year.

One Thousand Gifts: For What Could Have Been

As many of you know, Andy and I own a sweet little beagle named Sam.  Sam is our little buddy.  She’s sweet to everyone and is always happy.  She’s not our “baby”, but she’s definitely a part of the family.

Last night we got home from Missouri (which was great…more to come!) to find Sam missing…with her tie out.  It was ten o’clock at night, dark, and our sweet Sam was nowhere to be found.  We called and called, and Andy even drove around for awhile with the four wheeler, but still no sign of her.

I resigned myself to go to bed, knowing that God knew where she was and would take care of her.

I realized we left our toothbrushes in the car and went out to get them.  I decided to call one last time.  This time, I heard a very faint whine.  I knew it was Sam.  Only, it wasn’t coming from the field behind our house like I thought…it was coming from across the street.

I rushed inside to get Andy, who got the four wheeler out again.  Poor guy, I was kind of freaking out a little.  I think I woke up all our neighbors when I realized our cat was trying to follow us across the street in front of cars.  But I digress.

Andy found her behind the manufacturing building across from us.  Her tie out was badly tangled in big pieces of lumber…so much so that Andy left it…but she was okay.  I was so thankful, and I knew God had planned my going back to get the toothbrushes.  I never would have heard her cries had I not been out front, where I didn’t expect to find her.

Anyway, Andy was very sweet about it and got our little buddy all tucked in for the night.  I don’t think anymore tie outs are in her future…apparently she’s just a little Houdini.

171. For God showing us where our little friend was stuck.
172. For Sam being totally fine…just a little scared. (No telling how long she’d been there!)
173. For a wonderful weekend with family in Missouri.
174. For the chance to sleep in two days in a row.
175. For delicious treats and Christmas goodies.
176. For the excitement of seeing my family this next weekend.
177. For looking forward to a New Year, and many new things to come.
178. For finding an ornament that summed up our year perfectly…and half off too!
179. For a husband who goes out in the middle of the night looking for our dog.
180. For sweet buddies who make our life a little big brighter (I’m so thankful for Sam and Elsa!)

One Thousand Gifts: Family and Friends

Another busy week closer to Christmas…another week closer to doing Christmas with my in-laws and another week closer to spending Christmas with my family back west.  December truly is flying by!

161. The joy of being completely done with our escrow work.  Now we can work on our house on our own time!
162. Finally getting my voice back after a nasty cold last week.
163. Talking to one of my sisters who is now done with student teaching…yay for graduating!
164. Going out for lunch with my man mid-week.  Always fun!
165. Spending time with wonderful ladies from church at a Christmas party.
166. Learning to play spades with some pretty awesome people.
167. The blessing of friends, old and new.
168. Having friends over for chili Friday night, and their two-year-old son wondering why on earth our poor Christmas tree was so naked.  (We haven’t had time to decorate it yet!)
169. Seeing the people of our church donate so generously to send the college group to Passion 2012.  Even at Christmastime and even in hard economic times.  We raised over $4000 in one day!
170. Looking forward to time spent with family the next few weeks.

One Thousand Gifts: The Christmas Season

The Christmas season is upon us, and I’m loving every minute.  The beautiful decorations, the Christmas carols, the cozy mood…not to mention celebrating the birth of our Savior.  It’s a wonderful time of year!  What would winter be without Christmas?

It’s also been a busy season for us.  Christmas tasks and house projects have our schedules filled to the brim.  It’s nice to take the time to enjoy the season, though.  Sunday afternoon it was rainy and chilly, so my husband and I snuggled up on the couch with a blanket, warm chili, and hot chocolate, and just enjoyed being together.  All of our Christmas decorations aren’t up, and we still have gifts to buy, but we’re enjoying the time given to us.

151. The wonderful smell of a freshly-cut tree.
152. Hot chocolate on a rainy winter afternoon.
153. Extra parties and celebrations with friends.
154. Singing along to my favorite Christmas carols.
155. Looking forward to extra time spent with family over the holidays.
156. Already having decorations and things to put up…especially our “Our 1st Christmas” ornament.
157. Colorful Christmas lights on our house.
158. Cozy nights spent by the fire.
159. Nieces that are now at the hospital in Minot…one step closer to going home!
160. Fallen leaves and cold weather that remind you of new life that’s right around the corner in Spring.

One Thousand Gifts: Stress

Stress.  The bane of my existence.  The thing that makes my skin break out, my immune system go down the tubes, and my life become quite hectic.

This past week has been that way.  We’re approaching a deadline (tomorrow!) for an escrow on our house, when certain work needs to be done.  It’s been chaotic trying to get everything done.  But we’re almost there!  And, despite how stressful it has been, this past week has been greatly rewarding as well.

Through all the stress and, in fact, because, of the stress, there are things to be thankful for.  Extra time with my husband working on the house.  Making the great decision to squeeze in some time to spend with friends and make little boys smile.  Yes, despite how much I hate it, I’m thankful for stress this week.

Somehow, it puts everything into perspective…and makes me trust my Jesus that much more. 

141. Nights and spent hanging out with friends and enjoying life together.
142. A Friday night “date” to get fast food in our paint-splattered clothes in the midst of working on our house.
143. Celebrating one year of life with a sweet little baby.
144. Becoming the “tickle monster” for two precious little boys…and knowing I’ll never be able to live that down.
145. Honest conversations and encouragement with girlfriends.
146. Working on the house with my husband and seeing things finally “come together”.
147. A husband who knows so much about house repairs and fixes.
148. A husband who thinks I’m beautiful even with that “stress” pimple on my chin.
149. Fog in the field behind our house.
150. Looking forward to possibly my favorite holiday…all coming on Thursday!

One Thousand Gifts: They Will Change Your World

This week my list has been completely taken over by two little girls, who have rocked my world.  And I don’t mind one bit. 

A week after my nieces were born by emergency c-section at just 30 weeks, Andy and I were able to fly up to see them, along with my parents and one of my other sisters.  We were so blessed to get to go.  Blessed to have flights that were open, and blessed that the girls are at a NICU in Minneapolis, which is much easier to get to than remote North Dakota where my sister and her husband live.

Being an aunt is a wonderful thing.

131. Getting meet me my brand new nieces.
132. Holding their little hands and stroking their soft heads.
133. Getting to see my sister as a new mommy.
134. Seeing her husband completely enraptured by his new little girls.
135. Watching my parents hold their new grandbabies with tears in their eyes.
136. Seeing my other sister crying and telling her little nieces over-and-over how much she loves them.
137. Watching my Andy becoming “Uncle Andy”, and looking at his new nieces with such tendernessl.
138. Feeling an incredible feeling of love wash over me, and feeling like an aunt for the first time.
139. Two little girls who are tiny but doing good, without any complications.
140. Knowing that my life will never be the same.

One Thousand Gifts: Precious Miracles

This week has been so busy, I haven’t even had time to catch my breathe.  I’m still trying to catch up on everything from the High Point show (which I have yet to blog about).  Add to that a surprise visit from one of my sisters, my birthday on Saturday, and my two neices being born Friday via emergency c-section, and I’m about to pull my hair out. 

It’s been good though.

Hopefully this week things will slow down…and I’ll finally be able to catch my breath.

121. Two precious nieces that are tiny, but safe and healthy!
122. A sister who is now a proud mama.
123. Seeing God’s mighty hand through everything.
124. A family of believers who have encircled these precious babies in prayer.
125. Getting to spend a weekend with my sweet sister.

126. Hayrides and bonfires with friends.
127. More rooms getting closer to being finished.
128. The crisp smell of fall.
129. Rain making our home seem so cozy.
130. Another year to delight in God’s blessings.

One Thousand Gifts: Coming Home

Friday afternoon Andy and I finally pulled in to our driveway after being gone for a week and a half.  For a week, we had been in High Point, NC, at the furniture market.  The days were long and tiring.  My husband and I got to be together all day, but somehow it felt like we didn’t actually have any time together.  We were too distracted with being “professional” and “working”.

It’s good to be home.

111. A delicious lamb gyro.  You just can’t get that where we live.
112. Peace about God’s plan and timing.
113. A bonfire with the college group.
114. Working like crazy on our house and seeing our dreams take shape.
115. Getting to actually spend time with my husband.
116. A Sunday afternoon nap after a long couple of weeks without a weekend.
117. The lowest energy bill we’ve ever seen.
118. Celebrating my beautiful Mama’s birthday, even though I couldn’t be there.
119. Sweet little pets so excited to see us home.
120. Getting to take a bath…after being stuck in a handicapped hotel room with only a shower.