Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 30: Moments

Today is the last official day of the Gratitude Challenge. It's hard to believe that November is over. It's hard to believe that I've been blogging for close to 30 days straight. It's hard to believe that I STILL have things to blog about (that people will actually read!!) Each day, each item of thanks comes to me in a moment. One minute I'm just working away in the office, the next I realize JUST how thankful I am for a job that I truly cherish and look forward to every day. One minute I'm chasing Sofia down, trying to get her to wash her hands, the next I'm moved to tears with my thankfulness I have for the 4 year-old who has my heart. One minute I'm driving in my car, rocking out to some Jimmy Eat World, the next I'm struck by the power of music, the ability it has to transport you back in time, to a specific moment.
Today, on day 30 of this 30 day challenge, I am thankful for these moments. I'm thankful for the awareness of my blessed life. I'm thankful for the ability to pause, for just a moment, and truly feel the gratitude I have for the things in my life. This challenge has been so much more than just a clever way to broadcast my witty sense of humor. It's been a change in posture, a true transformation of the mind. Because, you see, when I started this challenge, I wasn't sure I could find something to be thankful for every day. I was bitter, and angry, and focused on the hard and negative things in my life. I was so overtaken by the amount of grief and trauma that's been my last 25 years. I was so wrapped up in the past that I couldn't see the incredible and wonderful things that made up my life TODAY. I'm not sure what I'm more thankful for: These perfect, freeze-frame moments that bring me so much thanks and gratitude, or the clean slate, the fresh canvas that lies ahead of me. This new life that I've been given, where no one else holds the brush; where I get to decide the story that's written. I'm thankful for this challenge. I'm thankful for the eye-opening effect it's had on me. I'm thankful for the people who have been reading these blogs, rooting me on. The challenge may be over, but don't stop reading! There's plenty more gratitude where this came from. Like I said before, I plan to keep on blogging, keep on growing, keep on sharing. Hold on people, you're in for a ride!!

Now, any blog of mine wouldn't be complete without a picture of one of my favorite little people!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29: Peace of mind

What a day today has been! Mondays, as you may know, are my days off. I get to sleep in and lounge around all day, and do whatever my little heart desires! Usually, Mondays involve a trip to the grocery store, multiple loads of laundry, and lots of coffee! I find it ironic that Mondays are the only days I don't have an alarm set, and I'm wide awake at 6 am. Every time. Go figure.
I headed up to the snow with the Lance/Gafner crew today. What a blast. There were crazy moments, but all in all it was a fantastic day! Dan cut down a great personal-sized Christmas tree for my room. The kids played in the snow (some enjoyed it more than others). On the drive home, we got to enjoy the most BEAUTIFUL sun set I think I've ever seen. Bright pink clouds set against the dark, strong mountains. It was amazing. I found myself totally awestruck by this sun set, not able to rip my attention away from it... for once my mind was totally still, peaceful, NOT preoccupied. I found myself so thankful for this. There were times, months ago, when my mind would be going a mile a minute. I would wonder if it would ever stop. If I would ever be able to escape the negative, untruthful thoughts and have peace of mind. So, today on day 29 of my Gratitude Challenge, I am thankful for peace of mind... for clear mindedness. It's been a long time since my mind wasn't racing with uncertainties and self-doubt. It's a big deal that I'm able to take these thoughts captive, and find the peace I've been longing for. What a fantastic day. So much Shalom.

Here are some great pictures I snapped up at the snow. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 28: Waiting with Hope.

The house is quiet. There's something I love so much about a quiet house. Don't get me wrong, I love my roommates and all the noise that goes along with... but on these rare occasions that I have the house to myself, I like to turn the noise off and just listen.
Today was a beautiful day. The mountains were freshly dusted with snow, the river this morning was creating glorious fog that covered the roads and bridges and sidewalks, the cool air was full of potential and the new possibilities that the day held. I loved today. Dan brought a great word at the Stirring... we began our Advent series, preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Dan talked a bit about the background, the story that leads us up to the amazing event we celebrate on Christmas day. He talked about how when you know the story, the WHOLE story, it makes it so much easier to enjoy the seasons of life. Every season. When we know that God will show up, that he will fulfill his promises, it makes it possible to wait. To hurt. To question. To anticipate. To long. When we know the whole story, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can weather the hard times because we know the pain will lead to healing, and the healing will lead us to Jesus and all that he promises us.

Something Dan said today really struck me: We need to hear each others stories. It reminds us that we're NOT alone. Not alone in the pain. Not alone in the struggles. Not alone in the grief. Not alone in the aching. Not alone in the waiting. When we share stories, it gives HOPE to people. The hope that Jesus does answer our cries for help. The hope that God hasn't forgotten us, that his faithfulness endures even through the hardest of times. When we share our stories, our testimonies, it reminds people who are waiting, to be waiting with hope. You see, people connect with stories. Stories of broken addictions, stories of answered prayers, stories of healed pain, stories of restored relationships, stories of changed lives. It gives them something to hope for.
Waiting with Hope.
Our stories help others to continue waiting, but to wait with hope.

Today, I am thankful for my story.
It's not perfect. Far from it actually. But it's mine. It's a story of all of the above things: broken addictions, answered prayers, healed pain, restoration, and most importantly a changed life. God has rescued me, and I hope that some day I can share my story and others will be reminded to wait with hope. Because there was a lot of waiting, a lot of longing, a lot of hurting in my story, but God came through. He rescued me. That's something to be thankful for, huh?

"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever... The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." Isaiah 9:1-2

I think this is something we can ALL be thankful for today. That the waiting won't go on forever. That there is a promise of a Great Light that will shower those who walk in darkness.
So we wait. But we wait with Hope.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 27

Today was an incredibly productive day! With a planned trip up to Lassen canceled, I decided to knock some stuff off my to-do list! The house got cleaned, loads of laundry got done, Christmas decorations got put up, room got rearranged, ALL carpets got vacuumed (less of a chore, more of a treat!). It felt good to stay at home and get things done!
Days like these make you thankful for the little things. Today, I'm thankful for:
-rubber dish gloves
-scented candles
-washers and dryers (what in the WORLD would we do without these??)
-flannel sheets (yep, that time of year!)
-seasonal decorations (I love it because you almost forget what you've got... and then it's like a surprise each year!!)
-leftover turkey (for the fourth meal in a row! I love it!!)

I love days like these. There's really nothing like getting stuff done!!! This week holds many exciting adventures, one of which I'm SUPER looking forward to: Staff Christmas Party! It's going to be the best. It always is. Is it Friday yet?!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 26

And so the Gratitude Challenge continues! What a wild day today was! Up at 2:30 am to hit up the stores. I got some great stuff! It was SO much fun too. People watching, chatting with strangers in line, milling around in HUGE crowds of people. The claustrophobia only kicked in once.... We were in Target, in the electronics department and I literally could not move. People all around me, squishing me, stepping on my toes... I freaked and pushed some guy over to break through and get free. It was a close call, but all in all, it was a really enjoyable experience!

Yesterday, as we were thumbing through the Black Friday ads, I came across my one and only TRUE dream purchase: A Dyson vacuum cleaner. Some people grow up and have hopes and dreams to start a family and own a house. And I have those hopes and dreams too, but they are right behind my dream of owning a Dyson vacuum. Don't judge me. It's a legitimate dream!!

Back to the Gratitude Challenge... In the beginning, it was just an easy and clever way blog daily. It gave me a purpose to my blogging, and a focus... but as the 30 days are winding down, I realize it's something I really enjoy. I love looking for things throughout the day to blog about. I love sitting down and sharing those thoughts with those of you who are following me through this journey. All that to say, I don't think I'll be stopping after the allotted 30 days. I think I will continue on, looking each day for something to be thankful for, something to reflect on, something to share with all of you!

ANYWAY, today, on day 26 of this 30 day challenge, I am thankful for:
-left overs
-the excitement kids have about Christmas decorations
-3 hour naps
-chill evenings with my roommates
-having the office all to myself (very, VERY rare!!)
-hot tubs
-my new boots!

Here's a pic of us girls from Thanksgiving. I'm VERY thankful for these two women. They're amazing role models and such caring and loving friends. Their friendship is something I am CONSTANTLY thankful for. And they're pretty dang fun to hang with too!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 25

Day 25- Happy Thanksgiving! I am officially full for a month... so much delicious food. I spent the day with two families who have truly become family to me. What would Thanksgiving be without the Lances and the Gafners and all of their beautiful children? We ate amazing turkey (thanks Alyssa!) and stuffing and potatoes. Followed by pie, cake, cookies... MAN, I'm full again just thinking about it all! It was a day that opened my eyes to just how blessed I am. It's so easy to say (especially on Thanksgiving day) that we're thankful for our friends and family... but today, day 25 of this challenge, I'm thankful for these two families, and they way they've adopted me into their lives. I hope they know just how much I love them!

Here's my favorite shot from the night. This boy, he is so near and dear to my heart. Hmmm, maybe he'll be the topic of day 26. I'm off to bed now. We're hitting up the sales tomorrow. My first time EVER! I'm pretty excited :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 23 and 24

Yesterday was a hard day. To be honest, I wasn't thankful for a whole lot yesterday. I mean, I know I have many things to BE thankful for, but I was having a hard time finding the silver lining yesterday. Sue me.

Today is shaping up to be less hard, but not altogether fantastic... However, I WILL be thankful today. I will find the silver lining today. I will worship through the hard days :)

Today, I am thankful for:
-minestrone soup
-passionate people
-my lovely scented candle on my desk
-a quite office

That's all. Tomorrow is the OFFICIAL day of thanks. I'm pretty stoked. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

GC: Day 22

Today is day 22 of this Gratitude Challenge. I'm getting pretty excited for Thanksgiving and all of the festivities that go along with! We're running the Turkey Trot this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. Plus, I'm making my mom's famous cheese cake... should be GREAT!

Anyway, today I'm thankful for:
-Shopping trips with my crazy roommate
-Stormy nights
-Successfully making something new for dinner
-Monday mornings with my ladies
-People who read (and COMMENT ON) my blog :)
-Getting mail of any kind!
-Painting my nails.... which I never do because I bite them too... oops!
-The excitement that Thanksgiving holds... I love the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 21

Yikes. The week got away from me. I think I missed three days. Yowza! Well, that's okay. I've still got a lot I'm thankful for. Today, I'm thankful for...:
-freshly washed blankets
-game nights
-genuine hugs from children.... especially ones you haven't seen in a while
-Hearing a 7 year-old tell you, that because of YOU, he's just had the (and I quote) best day of his life
-knowing you're loved because of who you are. Period.
-funny moments that are STILL funny days later
-torturing your cat by dressing him up :)
-the smell of peeled oranges
-Hearing parents tell me that their children literally RUSH them out the door to get to Church :) They love us.
-Monday mornings
-baking treats
-hearing stories of lives changed

I was at church tonight, and during one of the last songs of worship, I spot a familiar face through the crowd. We make eye contact, and I see her maker her way through the isle, zig-zagging around people to get to me. When she reaches me, she wraps her arms around my legs and hugged me. I love hugs from kids. Especially this nine year old. She is near and dear to my heart. I found myself fighting back tears while she hugged me, realizing that, for whatever reason, I had impacted her life enough for her to seek me out in a crowded room and show me such genuine love. Moments like THAT are why I do what I do. Impacting children's lives. It's that simple!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 18

Yep, skipped a day yesterday. I left my laptop at work, and it's seriously impossible to blog from my phone. Anyway, back to the giving of thanks.
Today, I am thankful for:
-finding that missing five dollar bill in your freshly washed pants pocket
-reading old journal entries that are proof of God's goodness and the insane amount of growth I've gone through over the past few months
-exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger
-the happiness that comes over a surprise visit or surprise cup of coffee :)

It's funny, because I've been thinking a lot about the "thanks" part of Thanksgiving... but recently I've found myself really drawn to the "giving" part of it. I love to give. Give gifts, give my time, give words of encouragement, give hugs, give smiles... Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say I'm the MOST generous person around. Because I'm not. But recently, God's been showing me creative and thoughtful ways to give.... and sometimes I think THAT is more important than the "thanks" we are always so focused on. Being thankful for things is great, but isn't it ALSO great to GIVE people something to be THANKFUL for?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16

Today is day 16 of this Gratitude Challenge. As I was driving home today, my blog topic came to me... today, I am thankful for my education.

The two may not seem related to you (my short commute home and my thankfulness for my schooling) but today, they are. It dawned on me that at this time last year I was making a lengthy commute to Chico two times a week. That commute was killer. There were times when my alarm would go off at 5:00 am, and I would literally want to cry. I hated that drive. It was so early, and so boring, and I was always so tired. But I got through it. I completed that semester with a GPA of 3.85. I survived the semi-scary (okay, REALLY scary) Chico campus, and even made some friends! I got to enjoy the beauty of the "City of Trees" and spent countless hours cooped up in the CSU Chico library. It was the hardest semester of my life (both the commute, and the 18 units I was taking) but I did it.

Looking back, it was actually kind of fun. I mean, I'd never volunteer to do it again, but for that season of my life, it was exactly what I needed. I remember the long drives home, I would usually put on my latest downloaded Pod Cast, set the cruise control and enjoy my drive home, knowing I was one day closer to being done with the semester.

Completing college took me a few extra years, and I graduated with a bunch of extra units, but I am so thankful for all of the classes I took. I am a wealth of (somewhat) useless knowledge. I know more than I care to share about child development, and I could whip up a mean lesson plan in no time. I find myself using the knowledge I acquired over the years all the time throughout the day. Although I didn't finish the path I set out on, my education is getting put to use all the time.

So, even though there were times when I wondered if I would survive the bi-weekly commutes, today I am thankful for my education, and the looooooooong rides that went along with it!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 15

Throughout the month of November, I've joined a few friends in a "blogging challenge" if you will. We are carving time out of each day to post one blog of the things we are thankful for on that day.

Today, I am thankful for:
-inside jokes
-Mondays (my day off)
-checking things off of my "do-to" list
-meeting new people
-finding missing earrings

Mondays, as I stated above, are my days off. I love Mondays. While the rest of the working world is headed back to work, I am taking a much-needed day of rest. I think rest looks different to everyone. For me, it means I don't look at my ever-growing e-mail inbox, I don't answer my phone (well, sometimes I do), I don't busy myself with all of the things demanding my attention; I just hit the snooze button. Mondays are like the "snooze button" day of my week... and I love my snooze button. I was talking with a friend today, and it occurred to me that I either 1. get a TON accomplished on a Monday, or 2. get NOTHING accomplished. It's an "all-or-nothing" kind of deal. And I like it that way. There are some Mondays when I wake up and feel extremely motivated to get things done. Then there are other Mondays where all I really want to do is drink coffee and read my book. Mondays are important. Rest is important. Do you have a "Monday" in your weekly rhythm? I would highly recommend it :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 14

You might have noticed I missed a couple of days... OOPS! Looks like I've got a bit of catching up to do!
Today I am thankful for:
-Ice water
-The Office (the TV show)
-Sunday mornings with my INCREDIBLE team and all the wonderful families I get to see!
-My Tuesday and Thursday early morning jogs with my ladies
-Remembering to use my coupons
-My leather jacket
-Hugs from Julie Read
-The December issue of my Real Simple magazine (okay, ANY issue of Real Simple to be honest)

Something I'm really excited about is that I signed up for the Turkey Trot yesterday. A few of us are running it this year... I'm really stoked!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 11

I'm 11 days into this Gratitude Challenge, and I'm finding that some days it's easier to be thankful than others. Today is one of the days where I'm thankful for a multitude of things:
-ice packs (for my aching back)
-pre-sliced apples from Trader Joe's
-good conversations with people who really, truly know me
-funny roommates
-Netflix instant queue

One thing that I'm extremely thankful for today is smiling children. During a conversation this afternoon, I was struck with a question: What brings me joy? The very first thing that came to my mind was a child's smile. In my opinion, there's nothing better. Children in general bring me joy, but there's something so incredibly life-giving about their smiles. Here's a picture of me with one of my favorite smilers. This little guy, he brings me a LOT of joy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 10

This one will be short. I'm exhausted, and posting from my phone (too tired to turn the computer on!!). Today I'm thankful for the promise that tomorrow is a new day. Today's been good, but tomorrow.... tomorrow will be great.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


As I journey through November, pausing each day to give thanks for something near and dear to my heart, I hope you enjoy my posts... finding them both witty AND thought-provoking. (Maybe that's a reach, but there, I said it...)

Today, the 9th of November, I am thankful for my most FAVORITE household cleaning device... the vacuum cleaner. Now, some of you know my deep, deep, passionate love for vacuuming. To others, this may come as a shock, but it's true; I desperately love to vacuum. I love the beautiful lines the vacuum leaves on my freshly cleaned carpets. I love the instant gratification that ensues a day's worth of vacuuming. I love the way it just makes life a little more enjoyable to plug that puppy in and freak the cats out while madly pushing the vacuum around. Any room looks better after it's been vacuumed. Seriously people, you should try it one of these days. It's therapy to me. Maybe you're more of a "do-the-dishes" kind of person, or a "scrub-the-bathroom-floor" gal yourself. Not me. I'm a vacuumer through-and-through. Call me crazy. Say what you will. I stand by the fact that it brings me joy. Need your house vacuumed? You know who to call.

OH, and a huge shout out to my pals (Mackenzie, Shannon, and Niki) who have joined in the Gratitude Challenge with me. So happy to have inspired y'all!!!

Oh, and Anna, I know you've been waiting for this one :) Let's just say I've dedicated this post of "thanks" to you my friend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 8

Day 8
Thanks to all of you who are following my Gratitude Challenge. I'd like to think I'm bringing blogging back... maybe I'm a little ahead of myself, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

Back to the thanks-giving... today I think I am most thankful for this sweet and sassy little girl, and the priceless conversations we have. Like the one we had on Saturday night where she informed me that she was Jesse (from Toy Story) and I was Bullseye (Jesse's loyal sidekick/horse) and she MUST ride on my back to see "her Buzz" (her little brother Moses of course) in the Toy Store (AKA the bedroom). When I agreed to the adventure she squeezed my neck and announced in one big breath, "Oh Emee, Iloveyasomuch!!"

She may only be 3 years old, but every minute I spend with her, she teaches me more than I could ever imagine... about love, patience, nail-painting, imagination, tea parties, compassion, Barbies... and Disney Princesses of course! As adults, we'd like to think that our presence in a child's life influences and changes that child, but in this case, I think it's indeed the opposite: I hope one day she reads this and knows that, at the age of 3, she had already changed my life forever. Today I am thankful for Sofia.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week one

Day 7 of this challenge.
I'll be blogging every day for the month of November, and each day I will be sharing one thing I am thankful for. Today's post will be short. Although I am thankful for the extra hour of sleep I got this morning, I am NOT thankful for the way the clock's switching affects my life in various ways (really cranky babies and toddlers at our AM gatherings, the exhaustion that sets in at 8 pm because my body thinks it's 9 pm, the way I get a splitting head ache EVERY year when the clock's change...). Wait, that doesn't count as my item of thanks today. Today, what I'm thankful for is this incredibly beautiful and breath-taking city I live in. As I was out the past few afternoons, I snapped a couple of pictures... they only capture a sliver of Redding's beauty. I mean, the colors on the trees that line my neighborhood are enough to stop traffic. The mountains that surround our busy city should be gazed at DAILY. The clouds today, did everyone see the clouds today? They were unreal... The sharpness of the evergreens against the crystal blue sky... boy-oh-boy, I am thankful I get to live in this gorgeous city. Take a minute tomorrow to notice the beauty that surrounds you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6!

Picking only ONE thing I'm thankful for today seems to be impossible, so here is a short list of the things I'm stoked on today:
-the crunchiness of the leaves falling outside
-the smell of my dryer sheets and my fresh laundry
-freshly-vacuumed floors (my fave)
-sweet e-mails from far away friends
-"I love yous" out of the mouths of little ones

I love this Gratitude Challenge because, even in the face of discouragement and hardship, it forces me to recognize the wonderful things in my life. And let me tell you folks, I have countless wonderful things in my life!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Close to the brokenhearted... day 5.

Psalm 34 says The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Today, day 5 of my gratitude challenge, I am thankful for the closeness of God. When we feel the worst, God is always closest to our hearts.

A dear friend passed away today. He fought cancer for over 2 years. Up until the moment he passed, he was fighting. He will be missed greatly by his family and friends. I wish I had the perfect words to say, but I think Psalm 34 sums it up pretty well for me. God is close to us when we are broken. He saves us. He heals us. Today, along with my thankfulness, I hope that God is close with the Miller family.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4: my love affair...

I'm spending a little bit of time each day in the month of November to recognize one thing I'm thankful for. I've heard it called "30 days of Thanks" or "30 days of Thanksgiving" but I'm calling it the "Gratitude Challenge."
So today is day 4.
Today I am thankful for sticky notes (of any shape, size, color and brand).
I know, I know... it seems kind of insignificant. However, if you know me, you know this is NOT the case in my life. I love sticky notes. A friend of mine even once told me that I have a love affair with sticky notes... :) I use them for everything. I have an entire drawer dedicated to them in my desk. They make the perfect book mark, love note, reminder, or attention getter. I love sticky notes. What in the world would I do without them? There would be torn up pieces of paper littering my life if I didn't have sticky notes. Some friends of mine, who knew my obsession with sticky notes, decided to cover my entire car with sticky notes in the middle of the night. Needless to say, I woke up surprised and EXTREMELY excited. Best. Prank. Ever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3

Today is day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge:
Today, I am thankful for my deep passion for children. God has given me a CRAZY passion for kids. For loving them, teaching them, celebrating them. When people share stories about their kids, I am most likely going to end up in tears. There's just something about hearing these stories that moves me. For a long time, I thought EVERYONE had this burning passion for kids... that it was just part of everyone's make-up. I quickly realized that this isn't the case. Not everyone's heart breaks for kids like mine does. Not everyone gets energized by children like I do. I think if you know me, you know that I've given my life to see children know they are loved. Today, I'm thankful for that :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2

Gratitude Challenge: Day 2 (check out my last post... it explains what this Gratitude Challenge is). There are a lot of things I am thankful for every day (clean water, my health, having all of my limbs, my eye-sight, etc.) so it's difficult to pick ONE thing to say I am the most thankful for today. It needs to be something great. Something perfect for today. So, today I am thankful for laughter. It is one of my favorite sounds. Some people like the rain, others like the ocean, I like the sound of laughter. It is possibly one of the MOST contagious sounds ever. When I hear it, I'm intrigued; I want to know who's laughing, why they're laughing, and I want to join in the laughter. If you know me at all, you know that I'm pretty generous with my laughter. There's something almost therapeutic about laughter. So today, on day 2 of this season of thanks, I am thankful for laughter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Challenge

A friend of mine had a genius idea, and I decided to copy her... every day in November until Thanksgiving, I will post one thing I am thankful for. There are so many reasons this idea is wonderful, but I'll let YOU decide why you like it so much, and I'll inform you of my first item of thankfulness: I am thankful for the rain. I know, I know. It seems like a no-brainer... EVERYONE should be thankful for the rain. But I'm thankful for the ran for a different reason. I love the beauty and symbolism of the rain. The washing away of something old, the changing of seasons, the new life that follows the rain.

So there you have it: Day #1, I am thankful for the rain.
Images by Freepik