Tuesday, December 31, 2013

25 Thanks about 2013

1.  Going to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a mission trip -- something about which I definitely need to update my blog. Thank You, God.

2.  Getting my first payment ever for writing a story. I just beamed inside.

3. Finally meeting this beautiful family whom I have loved for years from 9,000 miles away. Messay was The Fisherman's translator on his first mission trip to Addis. They have been dear friends since and it was such a gift to get to meet him and his family. Thank You, God.

4.   Getting laid off from my job. Sounds funny, but because it was God's plan, I can give thanks. With financial difficulties and a commitment to not use emergency or developmental funds to make day-to-day operations expenses, the ministry I worked for reduced to a bare bones staff. I loved the people I worked with and loved our ministry of life to pregnant women facing challenges and considering abortion. But God had a hurdle of trust for me to cross and He provided a dream come true. He has also greatly blessed the ministry with growth. It was a good thing. Thank You, God.

5.  Being asked to give the final devotional to our full staff. God had bouyed me up with the scripture found in Isaiah 43:19 - "Behold I will do something new; now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." For decades I had cherished that verse in a corner of my heart, owning it for little things along the way but knowing that it would be for something big someday. When I lost my job, "someday" had come and I clung to that verse as I knew everything that happens to me passes through His fingers of permission. He was doing something new and, though it was scary, He beckoned me to watch expectantly for it.

6. God swooping in at the 11th hour to provide me with another job within the same ministry. They have a thrift store to help fund their work. I was able to slide right over and work there. Not only did God close the gap between positions so there was no gap, He even spliced the two of them together. My first day on the new job was a couple days before my last day on the old one. Thank You, God.

7. God gave us the excitement -- for a couple weeks -- of the dream of working again in Alaska for the summer. This time, with no job to come back to, I was the one who suggested to The Fisherman, "Hey, why don't we make this the year we stay in Alaska through the winter and give it a try. We could seek out a housesitting gig and get winter jobs. You could work on your music and ministry study, and I could do some writing and quilting." For two weeks, we were all in with this plan, ready to make it happen. Thank You, God; that was fun. And then...

8. God provided me with a dream job. I actually get paid to write for an international Christian ministry. What a huge blessing! Thank You, God!

9.  I have a great boss. Two of them actually. I love both these women and feel so blessed to know them and work with them. In the primary department I work for, I am part of a great team, too. We work hard, laugh a lot, have a weekly devotional time, truly care about each other and we pray together. I am blessed indeed. Thank You, God.

10. Believe it or not, the fact that my office (my very own office!) is near the computer server room and is therefore really cold all year round has made my list of thanks for 2013. Coming from the mountains (with a bit of Alaska in my blood, too) and loving the cold and snow, it was going to be a real challenge for me to move back into the absurd heat of Phoenix after high-tailing it out of here 15 years ago. The fact that my office is so dang cold that I actually had to wear a sweater and put a throw blanket on my lap all summer, was a big blessing. When I left work and went outside to 115 F it actually felt GOOD for a little while. It helped me tolerate the intolerable. Thank You, God.

11.  I have been blessed with a home in my brother's family during our transition time. They have made me feel welcome and a part of the family and I have loved being here. Thank You, God.

12.  I have gotten to live with dogs again for the first time in almost ten years (other than brief dog sitting spells). Oh, how I love dogs! Thank You, God.

13.  God has provided for The Fisherman to continue going on mission trips as outreach photographer all throughout the year. His photographs are wonderful and the images he captures are exotic, beautiful, and heartbreaking. Thank You, God.

14.  Through these mission trips, God has used The Fisherman (The Fisher of Men) to share the Good News of Jesus with thousands of people, giving them new hope that God loves them and provided the solution to the gap between God's holiness and our sin. Thank You, God.

15.  The dream we have for opening an orphanage in Africa. It has been a dream of The Fisherman's for years. And now, it is in the works. Progress is slow, working between two countries, but we are thrilled that things are moving forward. Would you pray with us for this? Thank you. Thank You, God for this!

16.  I have been blessed with nearness to my longest and dearest friends. We have hung out together and celebrated each other. Thank You, God.

17.  I have a husband to who loves God with all his heart and has big dreams for loving and serving people in full time ministry some day as God provides and allows. I am thankful for The Fisherman's heart. He is a good man and I love him. Thank You, God, for my husband.

18.  Silly, but I am thankful for how The Fisherman and I always quote movie lines to each other. We have such fun interjecting a favorite movie line into a conversation where it suddenly fits. From Sienfeld episodes to Back to the Future to Dumb and Dumber to What About Bob? we have a blast pulling one liners out of thin air and making each other smile. Thank You, God.

19. Jesus Calling. Such a wonderful devotional written in God's voice to the reader and speaking right to the heart. Thank You, God, for ministering to my soul.

20. Philippians 4:8 and giving thanks. Thank You, God.

21. I John 5:14-15 and praying with confidence for what we know is His will. Thank You, God.

22. That God protected The Fisherman from further harm in Africa when he chased after a purse snatcher, kept him from getting away, and ended up protecting him from all the people on the street kicking and hitting him for his crime. The Fisherman ended up with a broken thumb but God protected him from worse. The thief's get-away car companions approached to retrieve their friend and at one time were seen rummaging through the car for something, possibly a weapon. So, though we're bummed about the broken thumb and that it's not healing right, we are grateful for nothing worse. Oh, and, bonus! While the Fisherman was at the hospital, other team members shared the Gospel with the thief at the police station and he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior! Thank You, God.

23.  An encouraging report after my brother's surgery to remove a mysterious cancer. Radiation is in store but no chemo. The report is good but the mysteriousness of it keeps me concerned. More lessons in trusting God. I appreciate your prayers in Jesus name for this matter, too. Thank you. And thank You, God, for good news, for Your love for him, and that Your love will be with him through the radiation treatments.

24. Friends who love and trust God through the hardest of times. How God heals, restores, and brings hope and good. Thank You, God.

25. With The Fisherman home from adventures in Alaska and Africa, and healing from his broken thumb, we are getting our own place. We're keeping our cabin home in the woods and getting an apartment here. From five acres, pine trees, snow, and quiet we are moving into a second floor apartment in a complex of over 400 units stretching across quite a good sized space of big city desert. We begin moving stuff in tomorrow. We are settling together. Thank You, God.

26. Just a few more...bonus thanks:  Sunsets. City lights. Beautiful warm evenings in October. Cold evenings in December. Getting away to the woods. Family. Spontaneous conversations around the kitchen island. A dog chin on my knee. A cat purring on my shoulder. A cozy soft blanket. Prayers for those who don't have a blanket. A God who loves them. Thank You, God.

A happy, blessed, and thankful new year to you all.

Monday, December 30, 2013


The Prayer Boxes, by Lisa Wingate

The Quest, by Nelson DeMille

Kachemak Bay Years, by Elsa Pederson

Blood of Lambs, by Kamal Saleem

Heritage of Talkeetna, by Roberta Sheldon

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, by Marilee Adams

God's Tribesman, by Rochunga Padaite

A Quilter's Kitchen, An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiavernini

New Year's Quilt, An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiavernini

Monday, November 18, 2013

Catching Up With Big Changes

I suppose I'd better back up a bit and explain some things. In late spring I got laid off from my job. The ministry where I worked in our mountain community was struggling financially. The only recourse was to cut payroll and cut it rather drastically. Five of us in the small ministry were laid off and operations were creatively reorganized. God has blessed and they are doing really well. It was a good move. While this news was pretty difficult to face, we knew that God must have something else in mind. Though it was scary, I clung to Isaiah 43:19 that says, "Behold I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

With two days before my last day on the job, another branch of our ministry asked me to work for them. Whew! Finances were still tight but at least I had something coming in.

We had been hoping for a writing job to come through but we just weren't hearing anything. We decided we both needed to go to Alaska again this summer. I called my boss from last year, whom I'd been leaving hanging, and said, "I'm coming!" Great excitement ensued. I was thrilled to be going back to Alaska. I was kicking it into high gear with plans for expanding the Alaska business, creating postcards, brochures, and t-shirts. I even said to The Fisherman, "You know, let's just figure out a way to stay in Alaska through the winter. Let's make this the year we try it."

Two weeks later, I got a call from the ministry saying they wanted to hire me as a writer.Though I had been excited about Alaska, shifting gears took me only about one day. This was my dream job. To write for a living? Sweet!

It took a couple weeks of phone meetings and eventually I ran out of work since I'd given my notice with intentions of going to Alaska. It was getting tight and I was getting scared. Things were taking longer than initially indicated and at one point I wondered if they were rethinking their words, "We want to hire you."

It was worth the wait. I got the job! But this meant a lot of changes. First, The Fisherman and I would be separated again for the summer, right when we thought we were going to spend it together in Alaska. Next, it meant I had to move a couple hundred miles away from home, from the woods, and the cool, and the quiet of our five acres. It meant I had to move TO the big, hot, huge, hot, and very hot desert mega-city we'd escaped from about 15 years ago. But, I have family and friends and a long history here. So, it was also like coming home. My brother and his family graciously welcomed me to stay with them until The Fisherman got back in the fall and we could settle somewhere.

The Fisherman took off for Alaska and I packed up enough stuff to make me feel like myself living in my brother's house. As the assaulting summer heat of Phoenix was beginning to really amp up, I moved down into it. My car was stuffed and brimming at all the doors and trunk.

I said good-bye to our summer-sealed cabin in the woods and crunched down the gravel road aiming for the big city. On my way out, clusters of wild iris lined the road and waved me farewell.

Good-bye wild ones. I will miss you.

So, here I am. I've been working my new job for six months and loving it! I write stories about the missions trips for the newsletter and I also write copy for emails, the website, the blog, "and other duties as assigned." That's our favorite (or non-favorite?) job description phrase lately as all of us on our team have been stretching our responsibilities and pulling off some big projects lately.

I am so thankful for my job. I love it. I love the people I work with and I love working for something I find so valuable. We have a great team; we have fun, laugh, tease each other, we work really well together and we work really hard. I guess you could even say the gift of this job is like a river in the desert!

It has been six months and The Fisherman and I are still not settled into a place of our own. As soon as The Fisherman got back from Alaska in late September, he was off again on some mission trips to Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. The trips were so close together that we decided it was wiser to just stay there in between. He was gone a month and just got back last week. He will most likely be back and forth between here and home. It's still home, up there in the woods. We're not going to sell it. It's a great haven. So we're going from five acres in the woods to, probably, an apartment in the big city. Who would have thought!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

25 Thanks About My Day

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1. Sparky

aka: Dude, Spark, Sparkler, Duderonomous, Spark-You're-A-Dude, One Dog

Sparky's getting to be an old Dude but he still bounces around when it's time for Food for Dogs.

2. Sarah

aka: SarahBelle, Dumber, Say-rah, Pretty Girl, Fluffy Dog, Two Dog

Sarah is obsessed with playing. She dodges pets and goes and gets her ball for you to throw. She's also obsessed with reflections and flashes of light. We play flashlight almost every night. When I took this picture it was about 6:30 a.m. and still rather dim inside the house. My camera has a pre-flash to enable focusing. Here she was looking for the mysterious flash reflecting against the fireplace that had just vanished.

3. Kahlua

aka: Lulu, Luey, Lu, Big Dog, Kahlu, Sweet Girl, Three Dog

Kahlua is the new family dog. She's my nephew's dog really but we all love her. She's a sweet Rottweiler mix whose growth was stunted by Parvo or something as a pup. She was a hand-me-down dog who passed among my nephew's friends whose landlords all said she was too big and had to go. She came to my brother's family and half-hearted attempts to find her a home resulted in the gradual falling in love with her that led the family to make it official and claim her as their own.

Dog Thanks...I love dogs. Love. Love. Love. And these guys all love getting loved. Well, except Sarah. She loves it but you have to chase her down and not let her go. She still tries to gently get away but she can't fool me. Her constantly wagging tail gives her away.

Kahlua always comes and steals loves from whoever is getting them. This morning I was bent over petting Sarah in front of me and suddenly Kahlua's head came from behind and between my knees, brazenly trying to steal Sarah's loves.

More Thanks About My Day

4. A short commute to work. First time in my life.

5. That my brother and his family are letting me (and randomly, us) stay with them during my new job transition in the big city.

6. My job writing at a ministry organization.

7. The chance to help someone understand who Jesus is

8. Being done with a huge project at work and getting reacquainted with my regular assignments

9. Gorgeous weather!

10.  Working in a place where I can take a few minutes out to go to a prayer room and refocus.

11. Positive, Encouraging KLOVE radio not just on the internet but in my car, too!

12. New shoes:

On sale. 15% off the sale price. Plus an additional 20% off that!

13. A difficult conversation turning very good.

14. Really good progress on a huge personal ministry project

15. Fun watching The Voice with my sister-in-law

16. Receiving Facebook greetings from two friends in different parts of Ethiopia

17. That (-crazy-) I have friends in Ethiopia!

18. That I had three meals today, when most people in the world probably didn't

19. Reading the same book as my brother

20. My husband's love and commitment to me

21. Being greeted after work by five dogs: One, Two, Three, plus two visitors, all of them clamoring around me to get and give loves

22. Kitty coming out of hiding from Big Dog (she's still getting used to the new canine addition) and sitting on the back of the couch at my shoulder, purring

23. Appreciating my still new laptop

24. LifeStraws - an amazing personal water purification product for impoverished communities around the world, hikers and campers, and doomsday preppers...which we mildy are. A little.  On a small scale.

25. Having a comfortable warm bed to sleep in at night

Thank you, Father God.

Hey, I'm Back!

OK, I'll get the guilt out of the way right off the bat:

It's been over a year since I've posted!
("You are one pathetic loser!")

Well, actually my last post? I back-dated it so it wouldn't look so bad.
("You can't handle the truth!"  Make that, I can't handle the truth.)

I never even finished blogging about my summer in Alaska.

Because...I got stuck without a photo I needed. The Fisherman took it on his camera and I kept forgetting to ask him for it.
("So what are we going to do? Lie down and die, Bob?")

And I just couldn't carry on out of sequence.
("What are you? OCD?")

OK, I'm out of movie quotes. And that last one wasn't one. It was all I could think of.

So...now with that out of the way, I'll move on.

I have an idea for some blog entries. They are along the line of Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts. Many years ago, maybe ten...I'm not sure...before 1000 Gifts anyway...I started looking for gifts from God. I didn't count them like Ann but I did write them down. And last year I took her 1000 Gifts in the Year challenge to keep a journal of three thanks a day  and followed her daily prompts.

I agree wholeheartedly with her powerful message. Giving thanks opens our eyes to God's gifts all around us. Giving thanks changes our perspective. Giving thanks produces trust and drives out fear. Giving thanks makes us aware of God's presence. And where God's presence is, there is joy. And since He is always present, joy is always possible. We just have to have eyes of thankfulness to see.

So... in trying to find some kind of "system" with which to both blog again and revisit an effort at building gratitude and seeing God in my life, my days, and my yesterdays, I came up with something. It's kind of random but kind of not. I'm grabbing the 25 from my 25 Acres blog name and going to occasionally write a "25 Thanks About..." post. (Get it? Instead of 25 Things, it's 25 Thanks? I'm so clever.)

First post coming up.
Oh, and if you're curious about the movie quotes:

"One pathetic loser" is from Dumb and Dumber. One roommate comes home and tells the other he got fired that day. They talk, then the second guy says, "Yeh, I got fired today, too." The first guy says to him, "Ohhhhh, man! You are one pathetic loser!" Yeh, one's dumb and the other one's dumber. (Loved that movie!)

"You can't handle the truth!" is from...everybody?...A Few Good Men. Famous enough to say no more.

"Squirrel!" Oh, I love this one! The talking A.D.D. dog in the cartoon movie Up would be rattling on about something and then mid-sentence suddenly swing his head to the side and shout "Squirrel!" and take off running after the squirrel. Distracted much?

"So what are we going to do? Lie down and die, Bob?" is from the exciting Alaska-set movie, The Edge. A plane goes down and Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin (Bob) are out trying to survive the Alaska wilderness with a grizzly bear stalking them. Something goes wrong and Bob gets discouraged. Anthony Hopkins shouts this line at him. Yeh, I kind laid down and quit. For a year.