Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moving to a new address...

I am moving my blog thoughts and posts to a new site.  If interested you can follow me here....

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today was glorious!  It started with a 5 mile run with three great friends.  I came home to the smells of coffee and bacon cooking on the griddle.  Ryan had made breakfast and the boys were all snuggled up on the couch with their big cousins.  After a leisure morning we went to my in-laws for a full day of family, food, relaxing and laughing.  We enjoyed wonderful food, a beautiful table and headed out for a walk in 65 degree weather.  The kids played together beautifully and the grown-ups got to laugh and reminisce about Auntie Lois and all the treasured Thanksgiving traditions we have.

We have more family time ahead with my side of the family.  We have more football and friends to look forward to as well.  The abundance of grace poured out on this family is overwhelming.  God is so obviously good to us and I am so, so, so thankful.

This heart of mine is still in training.  I know that as I learn how to give thanks when goodness and grace is obvious that my heart and mind are learning how to give thanks for times ahead when grace looks unexpected.  I remember that He asks me to give thanks all the time.

I read one time that when we presume something is bad we are really trying to be God.  Remember back in the garden.  Adam and Eve wanted to have the knowledge of good and evil to be more like God, as if His proclaimed goodness wasn't to be trusted.  We still fall into the same sin when we judge something as good or bad without knowing the past, present and future.  I think that's why He asks us to be continually giving thanks.  It is an act of trust.  In essence, when we say thank you to God we are saying, "I trust your love, your goodness and Who You Are no matter what."

These words from Colossians say it better than I ever could...

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace, AND BE THANKFUL.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs WITH GRATITUDE IN HEARTS TO GOD.  Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM."  Colossians 3:15-17


"Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way.  Bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you will have great endurance and patience and JOYFULLY GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."  Colossians 1: 9-12

I am forever thankful for...

~salvation.  He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the son He loves.  In whom, is redemption the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:13-14)
~books that inspire
~family that I love
~poppyseed bread
~lunch with my mommy
~shopping with my mommy
~Nannie and Hallie making up stories
~My kids running with great big smiles to see Nannie
~Zac's thanksgiving play at school
~holding Ryan's hand
~A back rub from Ryan
~Cousins playing the Princess Pink Restaurant
~Zac saying, "I'm thankful God had me adopted to you, mommy."
~My children
~meeting Melia's cardiologist. It was exactly the meeting I needed.
~Hope, no fear.
~friends I can count on
~comforts of home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Passing along the gift of thanks...

One of the things I love about my job as a PA is patient education.  I love to explain how the body works, why I am prescribing a certain regimen or medicine and especially what lifestyle changes may help improve well-being.

Well, this whole gratitude thing has started to overflow into my daily clinical practice.  There are so many, many people living out of control lives with hurts, habits and hang-ups that disrupt sleep, relationships, jobs...the list goes on and on.

My approach first addresses a person's physical needs, immediate and long term.  Sometimes this involves medicine for a multitude or reasons.  But, then I also address a person's spiritual and emotional needs.  One of the easiest ways to approach this sometimes sensitive topic is to invite my patients to start a gratitude journal.  I have not run across one person who isn't willing to entertain the idea of giving thanks for small things and big things and everyday things in their lives.  Of course, the act of giving thanks begs the question, "Who are you thanking?"

So, time will tell if this practice and these conversations impact my patients for the kingdom, but I certainly have seen it transform things in my mind, heart and life.  I hope it will do the same for others.  I believe it can.

This gift God has given us in inviting us to give thanks all the time and in all circumstances is part of our freedom in Christ.  We are set free from worry about tomorrow or regret about yesterday when our mind is fixed on giving thanks for every small detail about today.  Sure, if a person has spent the majority of their lives fixed on worry, regret, anger....then the transformation of the mind will take time and practice.  But, that is what the gratitude list is all about.  Practicing and in doing so, being transformed.

We have had a lot of things in our family lately that could and should, according to the world, bring fear and anxiety.  But, I am thankful that God is good and thankful that He is faithful and thankful that His plans for me and my family are based on eternal purposes and He acts in love and thankful that He works all things together for our good.  Here are the latest gifts He has given...

~more days with my mother in law, Jean
~cousin time in Kansas
~calm, sure faith seen in my father-in-law
~seeing a good friend, healed of cancer
~first Husker game with Hallie and Jacob
~Zac's hugs and positive attitude
~a healthy report on Melia
~warm house when the wind blows
~wrestling, giggling brothers
~coming to mom for hugs when the wrestling gets out of hand
~coming to mom for a hug when Hallie bit her tongue
~dinner with our friends, celebrating our dear friend's birthday as one of the family
~hockey game with the kids
~Zac falling asleep in the car.
~Jacob's last words tonight, "I want Husker gear for Christmas, #22" (after a loss)

...the list goes on and on and makes me smile every time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful for a grown up recipe that everyone will eat!

I found this recipe on the pioneer woman website.  I usually brace myself for the complaints I get when trying a new recipe, especially one that is "fancy" and not specifically geared toward kids.  Well, let me tell you this one surprised me.  I had no complaints and it is now one of Jacob's favorite dishes.  We call it...

Three Cheese Pasta Shells


  • 8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 8 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crusty French bread.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful no matter what...

~thankful that I am lonely when Ryan is gone.  It means I know real love.
~thankful when I am sick.  It reminds me that one day I will never be sick again.
~thankful when I repent to my kids after being a grouch (sin).  It reminds me I am forgiven in Christ.
~thankful for sleeping alone.  It creates in me a compassion for my daughter in China that leads to prayer for her.

The Spirit is opening my eyes to see a reason to always, always give thanks and see beauty in ashes.  Thankful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thank God for Sick Days

I'm constantly refining and relearning the purposeful act of giving thanks at all times and in all circumstances.  The Lord reminded me just yesterday in 1 Thes 5:18 that it is His will that I give thanks in all circumstances.  I am thankful to be thankful, that He is giving me eyes to see Him in all things.  Truly, eucharisteo, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for undeserved grace, brings joy!

Yesterday I was sick, Hallie was sick, the boys were sick...sick, sick, sick!  Let me tell you how thankful I am for sick days...

~slowing down
~Hallie home from school, snuggling on the couch
~painting toenails
~her hands playing with my hair
~each of us doing devotions on the couch together
~reading our books together on the couch in quiet
~Her book choice, "Little House in the Big Woods"
~cleaning out her closet together
~laundry done (all of it, for at least 4 hours)
~Zac's bravery at the dentist.  Two teeth pulled without a tear
~medicine to lessen pain and an amazingly skillful dentist
~Jacob's attitude.  He rarely complains.
~Watching Jacob construct lego masterpieces at the after school club
~Our home.  Quiet, safe, peaceful
~Phone calls from Ryan throughout the day.

I keep thinking that God is training my heart and mind to think about things above, not earthly things so that I might keep the faith no matter what this life throws at me in the future.  I am thankful he is training me to rejoice, be filled with joy and celebrate Him even on sick days.  Yesterday sure was great!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marathon Analogy

Last weekend I ran the Omaha Marathon in honor of my dear daughter, Melia. It's no wonder Paul compares life and faith to running a race. It's no wonder the pastor at our church used a marathon to describe parenting. It's a great analogy, and running that race has really impacted my perspective on life. So, here goes...

First, you have to decide to commit to the training and the race. Isn't this the first step in making anything happen. Committing to something that you know will be hard and painful at times (like parenting, adopting a child with a heart condition, marrying someone, following Christ, being a friend....) is difficult. But, setting your mind on things above and not on earthly desires and fear enabled me to make the commitment to run the race.

Second, is the training. Ugh! 12 miles, 16 miles (in the humidity), 18 miles, 20 miles (with shoes that hurt my feet)...this is the hard part. Staying the course and following through when life is uncomfortable, hot, humid and you are running on and on by yourself. I am thankful that most of my training was done with friends that were incredibly encouraging and motivating but there were hours that I was thankful to have Jesus with me when I otherwise would have been all alone. And, isn't that important. When I am faced with challenging parenting moments or frustrated relationships or health is good to have Jesus and friends that will listen, encourage, motivate, pray and run alongside me. One of the greatest encouragements was when I was headed out for a run in the rain at 5 a.m. and Ryan says from bed, "Wow, you are amazing. I am so proud of you." (Then, he returned to his slumber :)

Third, the taper. Ahh. The calm before the storm. Isn't it sweet when life calms down for awhile and we can really bask in the rest God gives. The two weeks before the run I was tapering and still concerned about my leg hurting but I also enjoyed more relaxed runs with my friends and a physical therapy friend gave my legs some treatments. During this time I really valued the knowledge from Kelly, a marathon trainer and from my PT friends. It reminds me that we need to stop and listen to the wisdom of others instead of barreling on ahead with our own plans and ideas. Their advice helped me to have a successful race and I am grateful.

Race Day! The start of the race was exciting. I had my tribe of running buddies with me and we all ran the first 13 miles together. They kept my mind off my legs and were a constant source of encouragement. They were in there running the race with me. We all need people that will sweat and run the race of life with us.

After mile 13, I continued on my own but not for long. My family, all wearing pink shirts for Melia, cheered me on at mile 6, 12, 15, 20 and 26. They woke up early, the kids dressed in the car and they tromped all around downtown Omaha, just to support me. Do I have an amazing family or what? This reminds me of the importance of family. No matter what, they will always be my family and they will always cheer me on in life.

Then, at mile 16 another friend, who left her family for a few hours on a Sunday, joined me to run 6 grueling miles. I felt my legs slowing down, but her physical presence inspired me to keep running. She jumped in with me when I was feeling tired and worn out. I can remember feeling this way many times with my children, sometimes with my job or other relationships. This is the point at which you want to slow down or maybe even quit, but then someone comes along and makes all the difference in the world. At one point I almost tripped over her but she still stayed right by my side to run with me. Do you ever do that? When someone tries to help, we push them out of the way because we really don't want to keep running the race, but a true friend doesn't let us quit!

Then, came mile 23. At this point I was by myself and due to a bathroom break my family could not make it to mile 23. And then, a HILL! Seriously! I am hot, my hips and feet hurt, I am all alone and I have to climb a hill! Yep, sometime life is like that. So, I ran (if you can call it that) up the hill and you know what awaited me at the top? An encouraging spectator. I don't know who she is or anything about her, but God knew I needed her kindness at just that moment. Don't you just love it when God drops unexpected blessings in your life in the midst of trials and pain?

Mile 25, a surprise! One of my running buddies was still around and even though her legs were hurting she ran 25-26 with me. She did not let her pain stop her from encouraging me. This is a good reminder to me that even when life is not perfect I need reach out and be a blessing to those around me.

Finally, 26.2 The finish! Cheers, hugs, a medal. That is the welcome home we will get from Jesus when we run the race of life faithfully~He is waiting with cheers from angels, hugs and a reward. Oh, what a day that will be! (And, I imagine my knees won't hurt the next day either.)

So, there you have it. Life as a Marathon.