April 30, 2009

Grankful Thursday

My former pastor's wife, Linn, is the one who began the tradition of Thankful Thursday. But today, she wrote a post about the difference between being grateful and thankful, and decided she'd like to emphasize both.

I'd like to believe that I have solved the problem.

Grateful + Thankful = Grankful

Today I am grankful...

...for the Compassion group in India, and that they have taken time every day to write and remind us with real-time photos and stories of the significant difference $32 a month can make.

...that not only do I have ONE steady job, but the option of a second one if I turn the first one down. I don't take that lightly in today's economy.

...for those irreplaceable moments lying in bed with Matt laughing our heads off.

...for friendships that are 98% enjoyment, and a rare 2% disagreement.

...that I can take a nap after I finish writing this.

...that someone, somewhere in this world is enjoying some sunshine.

...that exactly 2 weeks from today we'll be kissing Missoula goodbye and flying straight to Costa Rica!

What are you grankful for today?

For those of you who have left comments... THANK YOU! I thoroughly enjoy each one!

April 28, 2009

You May Ask...Or You May Not

I had a profound conversation last night.

(Lest you think I'm flattering myself, let me clarify to say that the person with whom I was conversing made a profound statement.)

In my last post I made reference to a "QT". By that I mean a "quiet time". What's that, you may ask (or may not ask, for that matter. But let's pretend you did ask). Do I mean literally a time of being quiet? No, not in the least, though at times I may be quiet. I actually am not sure where the phrase quiet time came from, seeing as how it may not be completely accurate.

When I refer to it, I mean my specific time every day (morning for me) that I set apart to seek the Lord. I study my Bible, His Word, and spend quite a bit of time in prayer. Not only making requests, but also talking to Him as with a friend, a powerfully perfect Friend. This is where I am free to lay my heart out before Him, exactly as it is, with no pretense. And as I study His Word and learn more and more to discern His voice, I become more and more conformed to His likeness.

Believe me when I say that there is a marked difference in my character and countenance when I allow several days to lapse without seeking Him.

I very much am looking forward to the day when Matt and I have kids, but there is a huge sadness in me already that I will not have the time that I do now to linger in His presence. When I think of it for long enough, in my mind I can easily put off having children. I know the Lord knows this already though, and I absolutely believe that He will provide unique ways to spend time with Him regardless. I know because I've seen it (aka Laura Krokos).

But back to my profound moment.

After the Esther study last night, I spent over an hour visiting with a lady who attends, and was absolutely flabbergasted at the amount of wisdom she had, and her absolute heart and love for the Lord.

She said that though she had always had a heart for the Lord, even from when she was little, that when she got married and had children, that she began to drift from Him. Not away from having a heart for Him, but from having time for Him, and she said that the more time that went by not seeking Him, the less she became aware of her need for Him.

And the thing that most floored me was this: she said that she firmly believes that she would have been a vastly different person as a wife and mother had she made daily quiet times a priority.


I take that deeply to heart. My times with the Lord everyday are the most important time of the day; not because I have to, but because I get to and I need to. But I don't want to be so deceived that I think that could never change.

"When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You,
'Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.' "
~Psalm 27:8~

April 27, 2009

I Laughed So Hard I Cried

Many of you know that I am an obsessive reader. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a book in my hand. Including, but not limited to, at church, restaurants, and college classrooms.

I kid you not when I say that if I happened to run to the bathroom without a book, I had to have something to read so desperately that I would read through the ingredients of the shampoo and conditioner bottles, challenging myself to pronounce the scientific names correctly.

I know, it's probably a sickness, but it's also a reality.

So anywho, for the last several years, my favorite sort of fiction books have been high-suspense, CIA sort of thrillers. Some of my favorite authors are Ted Dekker, Tim Downs, Joel Rosenberg, T.L. Hines, and Mark Andrew Olsen, just to name a few.

Amongst those, however, Tim Downs ranks at the top, mainly because he is HILARIOUS.

So the other week, I was at the end of his book, Less Than Dead, and he wrote this one part so hilariously that I had to include it here for your viewing pleasure. I hope the funny translates, even not having read the whole book.

The story picks up in the middle of a high-speed chase...

"He's trying to push us over the edge!" Alena shouted.

"Slam on the brakes and make him run into us," Nick said. "It might wreck his engine - then we can pull away."

"Trygg is in the back - the collision could kill her. And what if we wreck our truck but not his engine? Then we can't pull away."

"Good point. I'll keep working on it."

"How close is he right now?"

Nick looked. "Our bumpers are almost kissing. Why?"

"Hang on!"

Alena steered the truck directly toward a sheer drop-off, then at the last possible moment cut the wheel hard and let the tail swing into the turn. The cab slumped precariously to the right as the rear wheel slipped of the shoulder and spun in midair before the truck pulled itself back onto the road.

"Did it work?" Alena shouted.

"That depends. Were you trying to make me wet my pants?"

April 25, 2009

Communication and Ativan

Communication is an interesting thing. It's comprised of only about 3 trillion different facets. For example? For example, tone of voice. A slight lilt here, or a sharp tone there, and your meaning suddenly becomes very clear...or not so clear.

But now that we've become such a blogging, emailed, facebooked world, communication becomes even trickier. I've recently had an "email" argument with a friend, and it's been...interesting.

It's kind of nice because I get to really think about what I want to say and don't get trapped into saying something emotional that I don't really mean. But it's also not so good in that I can't know what they're really meaning or not actually saying, and I also may have to wait 12 (or 24) hours to hear back from them, leaving me alone with my thoughts and assumptions, which as we all know is rarely ever a good thing.

We learned this last week in our Esther study that anger and meanness always have a history; we don't just get angry or mean out of the blue. Usually something has been festering. This was absolutely true this past week. Which makes me wish that we would all just deal with our crap, at the time, rather than let it fester and become explosive. (And I'm talking to myself too).

Okay, I'm annoyed, and I'm ticked. (You probably couldn't really tell, so I thought I'd just lay it out there.) And I have learned something absolutely fascinating about myself in the last several months.

When I get angry or upset, my first reaction is almost always, I want to move. I don't care where, but I want to move right now. Get me out of this place as quickly as possible.

That's not usually very healthy.

(Can I just add a rabbit trail to say that something else that really annoys me is name-dropping? I see it on blogs and facebook when people "just happen" to drop a famous person's name and their connection to them.)

Ok, I'm over it.

Obviously, I need a QT.

Another one.

Or a nap.

Or an Ativan.

This boils down to the fact that relationships are difficult. We're difficult. No friendship is immune from hurting each other's feelings, or misunderstanding the other, or just being plain unteachable with one another.

But, as I've often said, I'm nobody's Holy Spirit. And most of the time, I error on the side of silence and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. But this past week I took matters into my own hands, and quite frankly, I'd be glad to go back in time.

I want to move to Costa Rica. Forever.

I think maybe I'll go have another QT.

April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's that time again, and it will be next Thursday, and the next, and the next...
Being thankful should be a daily thing, but I do enjoy this pointed time on Thursdays.

I am thankful...

...for Psalm 27.

...that the Lord is great and powerful, and there is no one like Him.

...(this will shock you) for this rainy day.
(Don't ask, I just am, okay? Gah.)

...for a love of reading, and for those books that you...just...can't...put...down.

...that Matt's finished with clinicals until September (for his sake).

...for compassionate people who remember from where they have fallen.

...for the free time and flexible schedule that I have right now (I know this will soon change as I go back to full-time).

...that in exactly three weeks from today we will be in Costa Rica. (I can't WAIT!)

Have a fantastically wonderful day!

April 20, 2009

You Know You Live in Montana...

I am not a native Montanan. In fact, the first time I even stepped foot in this state was about a year and a half ago, when we moved here. I have to admit that I think I had a subconscious view of Montana as still filled with bustling horse and wagon and cowboys lined up outside dusty streets tipping their hats to the country gals walking by with their parasols. I just literally could not envision an actual city being here, it didn't fit with my vision of Montana.
But alas, I've lived here long enough to know that Montana does indeed have its cities (none bigger than 200,000 mind you). But it also has its quirks, and today it struck me as I sat waiting for a green light.

You know you live in Montana...

...if there's a guy on an ATV in the next lane waiting for the same green light (yep, it's legal here).

...if your friends wear their holstered guns AT ALL TIMES.

...if 20 degrees is not considered cold.

...if 30 degrees is considered balmy.

...if you don't see the sun for 4 straight months. Maybe five.

...if all other states in the Union are spoken of contemptuously.

...if you can accurately recount the lives of Lewis and Clark.

...if grizzly bear and mountain lion attacks are casually reported in the newspaper ("A man riding his bike in the Rattlesnake was attacked from the side by a mountain lion. Man was uninjured. In other news, plans continue for the closing of the mill.")

...if the Griz and the Bobcats have any significance to you.

And lastly...

...if people outside of Montana ask you if you've ever heard of Jennifer Lopez.

April 19, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Potlucking

In answer to all of your questions, the photo at the top is from our wedding, and I'm not sure why you haven't seen it, you probably have and just don't remember.
(Ok, there weren't really "all of your questions"... really just in answer to Linda's.)
On a totally different and unrelated note, I love potlucks.
I just don't love them when I have to bring something. There's too much pressure to demonstrate your amazing cooking-ness.
Let's be honest. I cook. I'm not an amazing cook. I cook to eat, and so that my husband can eat, and so that 3 quarters of our paychecks don't go towards the establishment of Eating Out.
And I confess, 99.9% of the products I bring to potlucks have not actually been made by me, per se, and if I were real honest, I probably only brought them because I had a hankerin' for them, if you will.
Case in point: tonight I'm bringing Lemon Meringue pie. Have I really thought about if that's practical or reasonable, or if others would even enjoy it? No.
The only thoughts going through my head are,
Shoot, I forgot about the potluck tonight. I hate having to bring something, it's too much stress to try to impress others with my homemade stuffed mushrooms (not that I've ever actually made those), but I'm tired just thinking about it. Ummm, that Lemon Meringue pie at Rosauers is so good. Hey, I could bring that, and then just get a slice really quickly, and then I don't have to feel bad for spending $7 on a pie for myself, and I can still have a slice. Yeah, that's good.
I recognize that we all have gifts, and some are gifted in potlucking. I am not one of them. I laud them, and their culinary works of art. I simply ask that they not judge, lest they be judged, my Rosauers Lemon Meringue, complete with tacky price sticker ($6.99).
On a more random note, check out Sophie's many different breakfast ideas. May you be inspired.

April 16, 2009

The Sometimes World of Matt and Sara

Me: I'm not keeping score or anything, but this is the second time in a row I've cleaned the litter box.

Him: I cleaned it the three times before.

Me: Yeah, but I think we should go back to one and one.

Me: And we should probably take the trash out before tomorrow.


Me: And by "we" I really mean you.

Him: I figured.

Thankful Thursday and A Synopsis On Thrills

You know, some things just simply thrill me. I don't have another word for it. I am thankful for many things, and you'll see some specific things in a moment, but some times I'm just thankful for them because they thrill me. And I'm thrilled for all different sorts of reasons.
Maybe it's something out of the ordinary in an ordinary day. Maybe it's because it made me laugh really hard. And I was by myself. And it ended with me talking to myself about it because it was so funny. Maybe it's because I got to have a special moment just between the Lord and I and nobody else would really understand. Maybe it's because I find other people just so dang interesting, and I never get tired of staring at them and being awed by the things they do, and that's a thrill in itself. Especially when Matt breaks into my reverie and brings me back to reality to tell me that I've been gazing at the couple at the table next to us for a solid ten minutes. And they're close enough to reach out and touch.
. Who knows?? I don't know.
But what I do know is that I'm thankful that God gave me the ability to be easily entertained.

And with that, we begin Thankful Thursday.

I'm thankful...

...for my supervisor, Paul, and that I get to hand off difficult and getundermyskintotheverycoreofmyirritatedness passengers to him.

...for every week in our Esther women's study. I cannot express how much I have already come to love these ladies and our time together every week.

...for my mom's kindness and grace.

...for good girlfriends that you can watch Bride Wars with, and American Idol, and bake quiches, and play games, and go shopping, and call to get more sympathy over your bad haircolor than your husband could ever hope to give, and who will speak the truth to you even when it hurts.

...for my mom - for all the abovementioned reasons and a million more.

...for my husband - he's so dang funny all the time. What would I have done if I'd married a serious unfunny guy? Only Matt would've ever done, and nobody else.

...I know I've mentioned them before, but for Chris and Gloria. I haven't hung out with them in awhile and I just really miss them.

...for Elizabeth, Noah, Katie, and Lauryn (for Craig too, but he doesn't get to hang out with us for hours during the day).

...for my coffeepot - I'm sorry, but I'm still not over it.

Hey, I'm just curious... who reads this blog? Would it bother you if I asked you to leave a quick comment with your name and city, just so I have an idea? No? Okay, thanks. I'm just curious is all.
That'll be a wrap. Happy Thursday. Hope you have some thrills.

April 13, 2009

Free Therapy

Writing has often been therapeutic for me. A way to express what I feel and think in my core, with the ability to edit. You don't get the luxury of editing in real life, or wouldn't we all be free of misunderstanding and hurt feelings?
I wrote a post several days ago, and after about a day of leaving it up, I took it off because it was so personal. And although every word of it was true, I felt too exposed. So I've decided to rewrite an edited (see, there you go) version; one in which I don't feel as if my soul is hanging out there for all to see. Chubs, maybe. Soul, no.
A few days ago, I was very angry. So angry in fact that I threw my phone as hard as I could after I got off of it (don't worry, it was at the couch). And don't worry, it wasn't my husband I was angry at. Quite the contrary, he was such a source of encouragement and empathy.
After I threw my phone I just collapsed in a fit of tears, facedown before my God. And I poured my heart out to Him, because I knew that He heard me. I spent the rest of the day feeling pretty somber and exhausted in my soul. That night, I ached to worship God, to allow worship music to say for me what I couldn't compose with my own lips. And as I paced the floor, it hit me with the greatest clarity I've ever experienced:
I wouldn't trade this for anything.
I wouldn't trade my God and my life in Him for anything. I ache for Him, and I am satisfied by Him. I long to be nearer and nearer to Him. He is life to me and for me. He is the greatest joy I've ever known. He is powerful beyond description and yet, intimately aware of every life. He tells me in His Word that His love is unfailing towards me, and that He is not reserved in His affections towards me, but rather that He rejoices over me with singing. That His banner over me is love, and He tells us in Revelation that one day He will make Satan bow down and declare that He has loved us (3:9). Wow.
And I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Not for a perfect life. Not for a perfect family. Not for a perfect spouse. Not for all the wealth in the world. Not for the most esteemed job. Not for perfect children. Not for all the beauty I could ever want. Not for anything.
That night as Matt and I prayed together, these words were on my lips and I meant them with everything in me:
"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."
-Psalm 27:4-

April 10, 2009

The Hope of Paradise (Edited Version)

I'm experiencing writer's block... 2 weeks in. Sad.

I did, however, get a new coffee pot today.

I know what you're thinking, LAME.

(I am very excited about it though. It even has a blue LED light displaying the time, and for some reason I think it's beautiful and keep looking over at it.)

You know, now that I think about, something that I've encountered a lot of lately are so many tragic stories. And not just stories on the news, but from people that I feel connected to, even if I've never actually met them. Just recently Matt told me about a high school boy who fell asleep at the wheel. This young kid will most likely finish life in a physical and mental prison. His dad is a rock-solid Christian and continually expressed to Matt his unwavering faith in God's goodness. And I absolutely agree with him. I am not one of those people that thinks that when bad things happen, God is no longer good. That's not the God we find in the Bible. God enters our pain. He bears our pain. He gives us the hope of Paradise where there is no disease, no accidents, no tragedy.
The image that people have of Heaven grieves me. You know, white sarongs, puffy clouds, catatonic faces, a bright light. Why would anybody look forward to that? A celestial nursing home.
But, imagine with me for a moment the most beautiful place you've ever seen. Maybe you've actually been there, or maybe you saw it on Planet Earth. Think of the majestic-ness of it, and the breath-taking awe and wonder that overtook you that such a place existed. The mountain range in Antarctica immediately came to mind. I don't know it's name or many details, but I do know that when I saw it (watching Planet Earth) I was stunned at how beautiful and untouched it was. But I've also been stunned at devastation.
Think of the ugliest, most devastated place you've ever seen. Perhaps you saw news coverage of the massacres in Darfur. You saw the orphaned children, the bloodied bodies, the devastated landscapes and people. Everything about it was so wrong and not what was meant to be. And for me, it reminds me that this world is corrupt and ravaged by sin in the individual heart that manifests itself on the communal level, affecting so many.
And yet beauty still exists in breath-taking reality in places on this earth. And my heart aches with the purity and cleanness of it. But why?
Have you ever experienced what I can only vaguely describe as that something? It's otherwordly, a deep longing, a sweet reminiscence of a place you've never been. It's the tiniest taste of desire that's. Just. Right...There. And you can't quite place your finger on what the desire is or what it would be like realized, but you just know that it's wonderful and exactly where you want to be. If you could just quite figure out Where that is, and What it is.
I believe it's an innate spiritual GPS within every single one of us, a reminder that we were not created for this world. We were not meant to live in the heart of death and destruction and evil. It's a tiny taste of the Paradise that awaits those who have trusted in Christ. And the reason we cannot quite put our finger on its exact location is because we've never actually been there...yet. But we know, we know that we know that it's real and we know that we know that we know that it's right where we've always wanted to be.
The picture God paints for us in Scripture of Heaven that even Jesus, Himself, referred to it as, is one of Paradise. Even as John wrote about the tiniest glimpse that he'd been given in the book we now know as Revelation, he kept using the word "like". He saw with his own eyes and yet he could not adequately express the insane beauty and reality of it all. Even Paul wrote that he "was caught up in Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak" (2nd Cor. 12:4). He was not even allowed to speak of what he'd seen. Why do it injustice?
A place where utter longing, utter knowing and being known is fulfilled, devoid of shame, doubt, fear, distrust, blame, selfishness. A place where we see the Lord face to face, high and lifted up. In an environment of utter paradise.
I know You tarry, Lord, because You "are not slow about Your promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2nd Peter 3:9).
And yet, come quickly, Lord. We long for Your wholeness in Your Paradise.

April 09, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Before I write what I'm thankful for this week, I just have to share a little something that thrilled me today. Matt and I rarely drive anywhere, because we get to fly everywhere. So the only driving we do is in town, and we never have to use the highway. Well today at work I got selected for a random drug screening so I had to drive from one end of town to the other and on the way back I thought it would be quicker to use the highway.
Folks, I can't remember the last time I went 75 MPH. I felt rebellious. Even though it's what the speed limit was, I kept slowing down because it felt so wrong, but it was oh so right. And it thrilled me.
It's the little things in life.

Today I'm thankful...

...for coffee with Lady. I so appreciate and need her godly wisdom.

...for the great feedback from the women about how much they've been loving the Esther study.

...for my husband's guitar abilities, and that I get to listen to him play while I write this.

...for our new coffee pot - it's just beautiful. (I'm still not over it.)

...that I get to watch Bolt with Katie and Noah tonight.

...that we get to go to Costa Rica in a month!!!

...that both of our families will all be under one gigantic roof in July in Whitefish!!!

...for the warmth, and that today I actually had to use the air conditioner. So glorious.

April 06, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine When He's Gone...

I bet y'all thought I was gonna blog about my husband being gone all day at clinicals...
In fact, the only reason(s) I chose that title was 1) in reference to last week's American Idol (see: Kris Allen), and 2) anything that includes the word "sun", "sunshine", "sunny", "sunburn", "suntan", etc. is GOOD. In fact, just yesterday I told Matt that I could name our daughter (please see: future reference) Sunny. Doesn't that just make you happy to even read it?
Ok, moving on.
I was thinking about what I'd want to write about today, and I thought I'd write a list of my Personal Pet-Peeves, and then thought that I was definitely setting myself up for a big fat bad mood, so I wanted to go the opposite route.
I'd like to just talk about some things that make me happy...

...being caught off guard by hilarity and laughing out loud.
...laying out in the sunshine (bet that took you by surprise).
...seeing new places (from Seattle to New York to San Francisco to Portland in just about a couple months).
...when my husband catches me off guard with a kiss or gentle touch or romantic word.
...having all the time that I want in God's Word with a good cup of coffee.
...praying for something specific and seeing it get answered.
...knowing that my security and confidence are definitely not in this world's power or economy but in the truth and character of the Lord.
...getting together with my family - we're big, obnoxious, loud, and somebody is always saying something funny.
...finding my kitty on his back with all four paws up in the air. Sound asleep.
...getting to do something that I purely enjoy with no expectations (writing this blog, playing Scrabble, traveling somewhere).

I could obviously go on and on, but I need to bring it to a close for the sake of time.
How about you, what are some things that just make you plain happy?

April 02, 2009

Thankful Thursday (Except That It's Saturday)

Matt and I had a whirlwind 72 hours, thus I was not able to be thankful on Thankful Thursday (at least on paper), so I'm doing some catching up...

I'm thankful...

...that Matt and I got a mini-vacay in San Francisco, complete with trolley ride, In 'N Out Burger, clam chowder bread bowl, Ghirardelli chocolate sundae, latte in Little Italy, General Tsao's in Chinatown, nap in a park overlooking the bay, and lots of good sightseeing (all in 6 hours I might add).

...for Jordan and Stacy (they're crazy) and the cutest schnookumswookums nephews and niece - Austen, Landon, and Noelle.

...for misconnects (airlinespeak for we-get-to-get-on-the-flight-because-you-didn't-make-it).

...that the Lord absolutely blows my mind all the time. Let me just include this verse:
"Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
Psalm 96:6

...for Matt and that he's so committed to our marriage all the time, and that he has the same streak of adventure in him that I do (the Lord knows I need adventure like I need toothpaste...it's not essential for life, but it's still pretty much essential).

...for our vacuum that has firmly established its role as antkiller and a husband who bravely operates it (the Lord knows I can't do it).

That'll do it, have a great Saturday.
(I'd like to add that I've spent the last hour making these pictures work, so I hope you've thoroughly enjoyed them.)