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.