Thanks[giving in]

It’s that time of year when facebook is inundated with daily posts of what they are thankful for. I have toyed with the idea of doing the same thing (I just don’t have the dedication to share something each day).  So here I am giving in. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I desire to live grateful for how wonderful my life really is. God is so good to me in ways that I struggle to express in words.  So I have decided that I want to write out 31 things that I am thankful for this year.  It will be set up as my remembrance point of the incredible things God has allowed me.

1.  A breathtaking place to live that screams the glory of it’s Creator every day.

2.  God’s endless grace that desires my heart and the option of repentance even when I feel like I’ve utterly blown it.

3.  Friends who speak truth to me, give me grace, and allow me time to grow.

4.  The people who faithfully offer to do grocery shopping for me just because they want to serve and support the ministry where God has placed me.

5.  Laughter – especially when we’re laughing so hard that we can’t remember what started it in the first place.

6.  God’s Word – For God seeing fit to reveal Himself through it, how it seems new every time I open it, and it’s deeply life changing power.

7.  Village Bible Church – my extended family there and the way that they individually and collectively support me in many ways.

8.  My parents – for raising me, loving the Lord, and quietly challenging me to follow Him.

9.  My two wonderful nephews who make me laugh, remind me how to love and just enjoy life.  (and for all the other children that I am privileged to be the aunt of, even though not biologically.)

10.  Snow! – it’s beauty, source of fun and adventure, and just all around greatness!

11.  God’s peace – I am so thankful for that peace that doesn’t make sense but calms my soul and reminds me that I am exactly where God wants me and that I should/can continue to trust Him.

12.  A warm bed to rest in every night. I am not sure what I would do without it!

13.  Handwritten notes that seem to arrive on the day that they’re most needed.

14.  The ability to travel – to see new places, experience different cultures, and make lasting memories with wonderful friends.

15.  Long hikes in the woods.

16.  Working internet so that I can keep in touch with friends and family that are miles (and even oceans) away.

17.  God’s provision – that God chose to use many generous people to meet my financial needs, and that is a reflection of all the other needs that He willingly meets every day just because He loves me.

18.  Music – because it just makes life a little better.

19.  The Routh family – their desire to make me a part of their family, teach me how to truly rest, and encourage me.  For the ways that Kayden makes me laugh even when I don’t want to, melts my heart, and his “nickname” for me.

20.  Ice cream – I don’t know who invented it, but they should receive an award.  That stuff is just amazing!

21.  Tanalian Leadership Center (& Tanalian Bible Camp)- I am humbled to be a part of this incredible program and I don’t even know how to praise God enough for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see each of the students (who become very dear to my heart) and staff (who are pretty great too) grow as we seek the Lord together.  I am thankful for the way that SO MANY people see the value of this ministry and partner with us.  God has worked here in so many ways and it’s a tremendous blessing to see it first-hand.

22.  The Wardell Family – They really love me.  They mentor me, help take care of me, and just desire the best for me.  I am so thankful that they’ve been here to walk through this season of life with me and I look forward to continuing our friendship for years to come.

23.  Rest – even if I battle against it on a daily basis, I am thankful that God brings true rest and that I work with a group of people that values truly resting in the Lord.

24.  Lifelong friendships – the kind that pick up right where they left off even if I haven’t see  the other person in many years.  Those kind of friends are just good for my soul.

25.  Wool (and other winter gear) – I just really like being warm and it can get really cold.  I enjoy the simple pleasures in life 🙂

26.  Prayer – the ability to share my heart with God, thank Him for all He does in my life, intercede for others, seek His will, gain wisdom, confess my sin, and know that through all of it He hears and understands me.

27.  Hot beverages – I just love them. Tea. Good Coffee. Apple Cider. Hot Chocolate. Yum.

28.  Port Alsworth’s Community – I just love this quirky little village that has so much personality.  There’s always something interesting happening. I have grown to love the people here and what an example they are of love, joy, and trusting the Lord.

29. Planes, boats, snowmachines, & Hondas – they’re necessary sources of transportation, but also a source of fun.  I am just really grateful for the ways they make life easier.

30.  Jesus Christ  –  For His deep love, perfect life, demonstration of love & sacrifice, atoning work, resurrection, and hope of His return.  He is the reason that I live and have hope for the future.

31. Growth – I can’t praise the Lord enough that I am not who I was a year ago.  For the working of the Holy Spirit in my life and the ways He convicts me, fights for me, and reminds me I am never alone.  Thank you, Lord, for the work you are doing in me!

As I wrote this I realized that 31 is not very many.  I could keep going on and on, but I need to limit this.  God has done so much in my life and I hope that I never stop seeing what God has done.  It’s been encouraging to reflect on this year and see how truly blessed I am.

Summer Highlights

Each season in Port Alsworth brings about new experiences and things to learn.  Each time the seasons I change I find new reasons to love this place I have grown to call home.  I have definitely kept busy this summer, but have found time to play and enjoy the abnormally warm and sunny weather.  You’ll get no complaints from me about the 80 degree days and clear blue skies!  Here are some of my favorite moments and events from the summer.

GRACE: Several weeks back there was an unexpected visitor in Port Alsworth that quickly won the hearts of many.  Her name is Grace and was a 3 week old baby beaver.  I think you can see why she was a hit!

GracetheBeaver3      GracetheBeaver8

You can read more about Grace’s story and see pictures on my friend Kathryn’s blog. (Photo credit goes to Kathryn Bronn)

TANALIAN HIKE: I have done a good amount of hiking this summer, but one of my favorite hikes was with 3 lovely ladies that I met because they came out to work for Tanalian Bible Camp.  We had a wonderful time sharing what God has done in our lives (despite the high winds and temperature changes along the way).  I was disappointed when I realized I never took a pictures of us together, but here’s a shot from one of our stops along the way.

CIMG2117FOURTH OF JULY: On the 4th of July we had a major picnic that everyone in town was invited to.  It was a blast to celebrate with so many people under a giant tarp hung over a playhouse and bulldozer.  It was wonderful just eating and chatting with friends.  I realized how much I love these ladies and am grateful for the different ways that they each enrich my life.  I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly fortunate I am to have them.  I am not sure I would have made it through this last year without them.IMG_2234TANALIAN BIBLE CAMP:  I ended up spending a couple weeks in the camp kitchen and really enjoyed it.  I got to know some of the summer staff pretty well and made some great friends. I was refreshed because I got to spend time building different kinds of relationships, catch up with old friends, and intentionally mentor one of the girls on staff.  After sharing my testimony one night at camp, a girl on staff for three weeks asked me to meet with her.  I am not sure whether it was more beneficial for her or for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!  I will and do miss many of the staff members that came through this summer.  I am so glad that they got to experience camp and a small taste of Port Alsworth and look forward to seeing many of them back again.1016928_10151724027957629_1559481594_n

CONTINUED MENTORING:  This summer IMG_2251has also been time for me to continue mentoring in a different way.  Our friendships are growing stronger, but there has been a marked shift in how we relate – in a good way. It’s always a treat to spend time with Sophia and Girla (TLC students who have stayed in Port Alsworth for the summer).  I love them more each day and am certain God has amazing things in store for the two of them in the future.  They impress me with their maturity and faith whenever I spend time with them.

CAMPING WITH VALOR:  Another one of my favorite highlights was going on a camping trip with some girl cadets who came up through Valor, a ministry of Campus Crusade. I was asked to share my story with them.  I was told that I had up to two hours to share about what God has done in my life.  It was incredible how many of the things God has taught me struck a chord with each of them.  I also had the opportunity to facilitate a low-ropes Team Adventure Challenge Course day with them.  It was a blast spending time with those lovely young ladies.  An added bonus was one of the staff members happened to be a college classmate I hadn’t seen in 5 or so years.  I also thoroughly enjoyed trying out my “cozy” two-man tent with Sarah.  We stayed up way to late chatting and laughing.  It is not a night I will soon forget.

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PICKING THE NET: I have also learned some valuable skills this summer.  One thing that I have been waiting to do since I moved here was establish residency so I could go out and pick the gill net.  Well, my time has come.  I was able to go out and pick the net with Eric and Jon.  However, later in the day neither of them was around to drive the boat.  So Sarah and I, completely undeterred by this decide that we can go out in a canoe.  It was slightly awkward, but we got the job done even with Ellah, our extra little passenger who thought we were going to tip and freeze to death.  All the salmon and lake trout were then vacuum sealed and the preparations for winter are started.

EVEN MORE SUMMARY: To fill in some gaps in the summer, I also checked off three more Alaskan towns; Kenai, Soldotna, and Fairbanks. Summer is a great time to go hiking, kayaking, and just adventuring with others.  As much as I have enjoyed the activities of the summer the best part has just been making friendships with the wonderful people of Port Alsworth and growing in the relationships I already have.  I may not be rich, but my life most definitely is.

A Long Time Coming

Blogging has fallen to the bottom of the list of priorities lately. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing down my reflections and thoughts about life, but it’s lost some of it’s attraction. I used to catch myself thinking in situations throughout my week, “This would be blog worthy!” Recently those thoughts have not been crossing my mind. I have been learning to simply be present. Not to think about my next step or dwell on that past, but to simply enjoy where I am at the moment. It doesn’t mean that I never plan.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t look back. It does mean I am more content. I connect with people better. Relationships are more fulfilling. I listen better. I am more free to live life as it comes. Each moment is a blessing from the Lord. What are you doing with those moments?Image

I am trying to fully enjoy them and not take them for granted.

Faith Like a Child

Last night, right after I got home from a visit with my family, my phone rang.  It was my friend Joy whom I haven’t seen in probably seven years.  She and I grew up together and my siblings and I share our grandmother with her family.  I hadn’t talked with Joy in a long time, but think of her and her family often.  She said that her six-year-old daughter, Melanie, had a project to do for Awana and wanted to talk with me.  I never expected the conversation that followed, but was encouraged, honored and humbled by it.

Joy said that she had been talking with my grandma and had remembered her saying that I was planning on heading to Alaska as a missionary and when this project came up they immediately thought of me.  Joy told me that Melanie supposed to interview a missionary and then she was going to commit to pray for that missionary daily.  I was stunned.  I had just received my official acceptance and approval from the board on Saturday, and here it is Tuesday night and I have people asking if they can pray for me daily.  What a gift from God!  I was speechless and in awe of the goodness of God.

Melanie proceeded to ask where I live now, where I am headed, and how I am going to tell people about Jesus once I’m there.  We chatted a little about life and it was so good to catch up with Joy again and to talk with Melanie at all.  Joy said that when Melanie commits to something she follows through.  So as of yesterday, I have my first official prayer team member.  I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am.  God blesses us in amazing ways and the way He ordains all things is a mystery and I am grateful that it’s His work and not mine!

The Simple Things

There are times that I forget how much I enjoy certain things in life.  Here are some of things I have realized are little things that make life enjoyable.

  • Running through thick grass barefoot.
  • Backyard volleyball.
  • Playing speed Euchre and laughing until my stomach hurts.
  • Looking at stars.
  • Driving with the windows down on a sunny 70 degree day.
  • Eating guacamole.
  • Crossing things off my to do list.
  • Reminiscing with good friends.
  • Reading a passage in Scripture that I’ve read before and learning new things.

There are some things in life that never seem to get old.  I feel blessed to have the life I do.  Life is definitely an adventure and I am thankful to be walking with Christ through it.  This is just a sample of the things that God uses to bless my life.

Day-to-Day Miracles

Today I was thinking a lot about day-to-day miracles.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase what I mean.   What I am talking about are the things that happen on a daily basis that we take for granted and are truly works of God.  Life is precious and fragile.  Horrible life wrenching things happen on a daily basis, like a 19 year old girl dying of cancer, 2 month old babies having open heart surgery, children dying in plane crashes, and mothers losing babies in the third trimester.  These are not the things that I want to focus on in this post.  I want to focus on the moments that we forget to thank God for.  The seemingly mundane, yet miraculous moments that happen to each one of us on nearly a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Both of my wonderful nephews were born completely healthy.
  • I have a job to go to that pays that bills.
  • I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge.
  • I drove my car completely safely to work today.
  • My parents are still married after nearly 31 years.
  • I have clean water to drink anytime I want it.
  • I woke up this morning and breathed another breath.
  • Christ died for me.  I am free.
Oh, the things I take for granted that should drive me to my knees in overwhelming worship to my God.  The things that are absolutely miraculous and blessings from above can easily become the mundane and even cause me to complain at times.  The thoughts of today have been a slap in the face and have driven my heart to a place of humility and wonder for the provision I receive and the greatness of my God.

Refreshing Conversation

This past week has been filled with refreshing conversations.  I really enjoy a long deep heart-to-heart conversation and lately I have felt as though they have been few and far between, but I cherish them when they do come about.  I am truly excited to say that I have several to share about this week and they have been truly gifts to my soul from God.
  • On Wednesday night I was able to just stand and talk with some friends about anything and nothing at all and it was wonderful to just chat and not care about time (due to not having a work meeting in the morning, thus leaving me open until 11:00am!).
  • Thursday evening my roommates and I hosted the Women’s Supper Club.  We all moved into the living room after dinner and talked about theology, books, travel, children sharing the Gospel, and just life in general.  It was refreshing to have women of all ages sit and chat naturally about what God is doing in our lives.
  • Lisa I sat up and talked for quite a while after supper club.  We just talked about missions, traveling, learning, what God could do with our futures, cultures, and the list could go on.  So many of these things have been consuming my thoughts and it was wonderful to talk through them.
  • This morning I was able to get together for breakfast with a friend (which I had been intending on doing for moths!).  It was wonderful getting to know her more.  She’s such a genuine and sweet girl and I loved hearing about her life and experiences.
  • As much as I loved these conversations, there is nothing that tops a deep conversation with a friend you rarely see.  A dear friend of mine from Moody is getting married and I was able to go to her bridal shower last night.  It was such a blessing to see her.  We ended up sitting in my car in front of her apartment building for over an hour talking about life and God.  It reminded me what a gift friendship is.  Especially when that friendship is built on the foundation of Christ.  We don’t see each other as often as we like, but we always pick up where we left off and it’s as if we never missed a beat.  There are some people that I can barely think of things to say to for a twenty minute conversation, but after 4 hours, Andrea and I could manage to have barely scratched the surface.
This has been a week of little gems.  I can’t remember having a week with this many great conversations since graduating.  That is one of the things I miss most about college, but I cherish these moments even more now.