Category Archives: Family

Thankfulness?

Thanksgiving

This morning I heard that in five years, most stores will be open on Thanksgiving. I remember feeling sick to my stomach when stores started doing that last year. And not just because of the people who wouldn’t be able to spend what is perhaps the most family-focused holiday with their families (perhaps because it has nothing to do with getting stuff?). It’s the irony of it that makes me sick—a day intended for showing thankfulness has been turned into a day of greed.

One article I read quoted a Best Buy representative, who basically said they’re just giving customers what they obviously want. I would guess it has less to do with people wanting to shop on Thanksgiving and more to do with people wanting (and in some cases, needing) to save as much money as possible. So if the stores offer their best deals on Thanksgiving, that’s when they’ll to shop.

I recognize my thinking on that point may be a little naive—that want-to-save could easily be construed as greed in many situations. And there are people out there who would much rather be shopping on Thanksgiving than spending time with their families. (I can sympathize—it can be torture to spend holidays with a royally messed up family. Like Christmas the year my parents separated—we all got together on Christmas morning like nothing had changed, but it had. It may be one of the most awkward things I’ve ever experienced. And this year we’re going all the way to Michigan to see my family, but I don’t even know if we’re going to have a Thanksgiving dinner!) But that doesn’t change that Thanksgiving is meant to be a day to show thanks.

Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official holiday in 1863. Here’s part of his official declaration:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Part of me wonders if that’s the problem in our country. We’ve removed God from everything else—why not remove Him from Thanksgiving, too, even if it is a day set aside to offer “Thanksgiving and Praise to ourbeneficient Father.”To add to the irony, Lincoln also said,

I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for each singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.

 So I won’t be shopping this Thanskgiving. Instead, I intend to spend the day thanking God for His many blessings, asking Him for forgiveness (for myself and my country), and begging Him to align America with His plan—‘cause I’m pretty sure buying more stuff (that will likely be broken in six months) instead of Thanking Him for what He’s already provided is not part of His plan.

Lately I’m . . .

Moving. Official moving day was October 13, so we’ve been in the new place for just over two weeks. All of our boxes were gone after three days. I have this problem where I can’t relax until something like that is done. So I took two mornings off work and did it. Our garage is full of empty boxes, but at least I can’t see them from the couch.

Now we just need to find a good deal on a used washer and dryer. Any pointers?

We’re still paying for the old place at least until the week of Thanksgiving (and probably through December, depending on how much time we want to devote to fighting the property management company), and we have to go back to take some things to Goodwill and make the place spotless. Eventually I’ll get that done.

This is the old place before we left. Pictures of the new place coming soon!

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Getting lost on purpose. Kinda. We don’t know our new area at all. At least, we didn’t. We’ve done an awful lot of driving around just to see what we can see—usually without even turning on the GPS. Sometimes that’s the best way to get your bearings. But I keep having this problem where I think of a certain direction as the “front.” Does that make any sense? Whether it does or not, it’s confusing the heck out of me. Some day I’ll know where I am.

Adjusting. I’m still mourning the loss of our old location. It was so close to everything—Trader Joe’s, the gym, Target. Now we’re at least 10 minutes from anything. And I can’t figure out which Target to go to because you can draw a 10-minute circle around where we live and find a Target in any direction. But at least our apartment finally feels like home.

Visiting LaCrosse. Jonathan’s sister Jennafer is currently living in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the whole family (minus two) went to visit her. Joanthan’s parents brought their boat and we spent the afternoon cruising the Mississippi. I’ve always loved driving through that area on road trips because the scenery is gorgeous. And fall is no different . . .

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 Loving fall. Really, this just means that I’m anticipating snow. I do like the pretty leaves for awhile, and the crisp air is refreshing, but I’m really just waiting for that first accumulation. We had a few flurries the other day…

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Going deeper. Our Life Group is doing the first book in the 2:7 series from the Navigators, which has me reading my Bible on a  daily basis and digging for things that stick out to me. It’s always been so easy for me to speed read and not learn anything, but having to write down what I’m learning and reading a different version (ESV­—usually I use NLT) has made a difference. Right now I’m in Hebrews. We’ve already read Luke and Daniel.

In addition to that, I’m also reviewing The Wayfinding Bible from Tyndale, and that has me reading even more. Last night I read about the flood.

 

I’m hoping to find more time for blogging now that we’re settled in. We might even get Internet at home, which is something we haven’t had since I used dial-up to finish my online classes almost four years ago. We shall see.

Unknown No More (Kinda)

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Awhile ago, I posted about some big changes that could be coming for me and Jonathan. Well, they came, and today I can finally tell you about them.

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Tomorrow morning, Jonathan starts a new job as the managing editor of a newspaper on the east side of the Twin Cities. (He’s still working for the same company, just a different paper and a different office.) And this Sunday, we’re making what feels like an awfully big move to be closer to his new office. (It’s not really that big—I’m keeping my job and we’re not changing churches, but the new place is at least half an hour from where we are now, and we don’t know the area at all.)

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This has been a long time coming, and we’re excited (and a bit stressed) that it’s finally here. It’ll be a great opportunity for Jonathan and a bit of a “culture shock” for both of us. We really love our current location, and quite honestly, I’m really struggling with the move. Our new place is gorgeous, but it’s in a much more “rural” setting than where we are now. Being minutes from Uptown really has its perks, and I’m going to miss being able to get just about anywhere in two minutes.

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But all whining and worries aside, we’re both confident that God has been guiding us every step of the way, and we can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m excited about getting to know Jonathan’s new community and living in a more “rural” area.

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These pictures are from when we visited Jonathan’s new coverage area in August. Pictures of our new apartment will come after we get settled in. In the meantime, say a prayer for us. We’re having a few difficulties with the company that manages our current apartment and aren’t quite sure of the best way to handle it.

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I’m getting settled :)

Ten Great Dates by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp

Ten Great DatesLast night I finished reading Ten Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp. I chose to review it because it looked more interesting than the other three or four nonfiction options Bethany House had available. Unfortunately, while it has some good stuff in it, I was disappointed.

Ten Great Dates—written by two couples who have a lot of experience with marriage mentoring, counseling, and conferences­­—sets out to “help you connect faith, love, and marriage in ways that result in spiritual connection—all in the fun, guilt-free, safe format of Great Dates” (pg. 9). It was a quick read that contains some good marriage advice, and I like that it focuses on incorporating your faith into your marriage. I also liked that it included some Bible study questions to get you reading what the Bible has to say. But there were quite a few things I didn’t like.

The concept is interesting—plans for 10 different Dates with your spouse—but it wasn’t laid out the way I expected. Based on the back cover copy, I was expecting more ideas for the actual date activities/locations, but the focus was on what you should discuss. The most specific instructions for a date activity was were to “go to a nice restaurant” and “find a quiet place to talk.”

The authors used a lot of personal stories to illustrate their points. While examples like that can be helpful, I thought there were too many stories, and they were so long it was easy to forget the point. I grew bored with them and found myself skipping those sections.

The tear-out sheets at the back of the book are designed to guide the conversation for each Date—each person is supposed to get a copy and prepare for the Date by answering the questions. I knew after reading just the first one that my husband (who is a committed Christian and usually a good sport) would never agree to do all ten Dates. By the time I finished the book, I didn’t want to do them either.

Ten Great Dates could be helpful for couples who aren’t married yet or who became believers after they got married and haven’t figured out how to incorporate their faith into their marriage. But if you’re already married and doing things like praying and reading the Bible with your spouse, there are better marriage resources out there (Love & Respect, Sacred Marriage, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and The Five Love Languages to name a few).

(P.S. It would probably go unnoticed by most people, but the ridiculous amount of exclamation points drove me crazy. One page had four in just two short paragraphs—that’s more than I would allow for an entire book.)

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Not Exactly How I Planned to Spend Grandparents Day

DSCN7083We were all set to go up north on Friday after work to help Jonathan’s grandparents take the dock out of the lake just like we did last year. While I waited for Jonathan to come home, I packed and texted back and forth with Jonathan’s grandpa, giving him our ETA, letting him know that yes, we would stop and pick up taco shells on our way, and telling him I loved him too. After about three hours in the car, we arrived, at a late taco dinner (pretty much a tradition), visited with Grandma and Grandpa, and went to bed really late, but not before Grandma gave us her customary, “You get up when you get up.” The plan was for us to catch up on sleep, get up, have brunch, and maybe take the boat out for one last spin around the lake. Then the boys would go take the dock out of the lake.

But this weekend did not go as planned.

We woke up sometime after 8:00 a.m. to Grandma knocking on the door, apologizing for waking us and asking Jonathan if he could please go talk to Grandpa because he thinks he might be having a heart attack.

The night before, Grandpa had said more than once that he wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t give details. Turns out that meant he had been having some pretty classic heart attack symptoms since Thursday. We got up, threw some things together, and Jonathan drove quite a ways to the nearest “hospital” (basically a glorified clinic with an emergency room. When you’re that far north, hospitals are few and far between). On the ride, Grandpa was acting like himself, asking Jonathan to slow down and did he go through a lot of tires and could he please go a little faster?

Grandma was just in awe of the way God had worked it out for Jonathan and me to be with them on this particular weekend. We had made plans for a different date and had switched those plans twice, finally landing on this weekend at the last minute. Since Grandma doesn’t drive much, it would not have been easy for her to drive that morning especially. It really was a blessing that we were there to do the driving and help where needed.

Having never experienced a real emergency before, I was surprised I was able to remain calm. (Jonathan is what one of my friends calls a “steady Eddie,” so I expected him to be that way, but not me.) My first instinct was to pray. So I started praying and I spent a good bit of time texting people I knew would pray for Grandpa. Since I had gone to bed without brushing my teeth or showering, I made sure I packed my toothbrush and makeup bag. I kept quiet nearly the whole car ride, not really knowing what to say. While we waited for news, Grandma sent us to the vending machines, where we looked for some kind of breakfast. We ended up with a bag of peanuts and a diet coke for her and pink lemonade, pop tarts, and cinnamon Certs (that’s what happens when you push the wrong numbers!) for us.

They did some tests, told us Grandpa had, in fact, had a severe heart attack, and prepared to airlift him to Minneapolis. Grandma couldn’t ride in the helicopter, so we drove her all the way back to the house to pick up our suitcase and car and pack for the hospital stay.

We collected the typical things you’d think to take, like clean underwear, things for Grandma to work on, and quarters for Grandpa’s Sunday paper, but since it’s a three-hour drive to Minneapolis and since Grandma was expecting bypass surgery and therapy afterward, we brought other things too. Like an entire box of tomatoes. And another box of green peppers. And a bag of cucumbers, an entire pumpkin pie, a few peaches, and two coolers full of food that Grandma thought would go to waste while they were in the Cities.

It took us about an hour to get back to the house, load everything, and leave for the hospital. Jonathan drove Grandma in her van and I followed in our car. I think it was hard for all three of us to know that we wouldn’t see Grandpa for several hours. Grandma busied herself with phone calls to and from loved ones, Jonathan drove and offered support when needed, and I prayed a bit and listened to shows on public radio for the entire three hours, not really wanting to think much about what was going on. I calmed myself by remembering that Grandpa was in exactly the right place to get the help he needed.

When we stopped for gas and lunch at Subway, Jonathan told me Grandpa had made it to the hospital, had a stent put in, and was already out of surgery, doing well, and expected to go home on Monday (which he did!). Jonathan’s mom was with him.

When we finally arrived, around 3:00 p.m., I sank into a chair in the waiting room and almost lost it. The stress of the day and the utter relief that Grandpa was okay finally hit me, and it was all I could do to not burst into tears. But Jonathan doesn’t have a weepy family like I do, and I wanted to keep myself in check. After Jonathan’s mom gave us a few more details, we got to sit with Grandpa. Other than being in intensive care and connected to a bunch of machines, he was his normal self, and I was so relieved.

I was surprised how many people thanked us for “everything you did.” What else would we do? I wondered. We love Grandpa just as much as you. But I realized that just like me, everyone else was just grateful Grandpa was okay. They were grateful, just as I was, that we were there to help. But we weren’t the ones who should be thanked—I have no doubt that God made sure we were there at just the right time.

This whole experience made me realize that how you respond in an emergency isn’t too far from how you respond in a non-emergency (maybe it’s different with others, but that was certainly the case with us). So often we think that it’ll be different when it matters, but is that really true? Do the things you care about most really change in an emergency? Despite the circumstances, your behavior and the things you care about might not change as much as you’d think—Jonathan still kept his cool and made sure he had a book to read; Grandpa still won the award for best backseat driver ever and worried about us (“Tell the kids not to worry about the dock”); and Grandma still kept everyone in the loop and wanted to make sure her food would be enjoyed. Me? Well, to my shame, I realized I care too much about how I look (who needs makeup at the hospital?), And I discovered prayer is my go-to in any situation.

The most important thing I realized is just how much Grandpa and Grandma mean to me. We went back to the hospital to visit on Sunday, and I must say, there’s no better way to celebrate Grandparent’s Day than with your grandparents.

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This is us this time last year—with Grandma and Grandpa and Jonathan’s brother Christopher.

To all of you who prayed for us this weekend, thank you! Your support and prayers meant so much to me and the rest of the family. I truly believe your prayers are part of the reason Grandpa is doing so well.

Hope and a Future

The beginning of the school year makes me sentimental.

But who am I kidding?—I’m always sentimental.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my freshman year at Taylor and how different my life looked when I started college. I’ve been reminded how awesome God is.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” It’s a verse I quoted over and over to myself as I faced my first year at college with utter terror. (You think I’m exaggerating? I cried almost every day of my senior year of high school just because I knew I’d be leaving home on my own—three hours a way from my family and no friends to hide behind.) As many times as I quoted it though, I didn’t understand the depth of its meaning until now, as I look back at how my life has changed and how God has used each step to teach me and further His kingdom.

My college roommate, Dana, has become a life-long friend who understands me better than almost anyone. God used her to push me out of my comfort zone and show me what a Christian friendship looks like.

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I met Jonathan and spent six months waiting for him to ask me out. And then I spent 14 months praying God would let me marry him. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary.

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I left my beloved home state of Michigan and moved to what one of my friends from home calls, “The Great White North.” It’s not the same, but I really have come to love Minnesota.

I learned what it’s like to be part of a committed, Christ-following community. My days at Taylor were filled with professors, students, and even cafeteria workers who loved Jesus. And now our church (also where I work) has brought us the same gift here in Minnesota. What a blessing to be surrounding by such a faithful, positive, and supportive group of people.

Hewitt Wedding

I discovered a passion for editing and had the opportunity to intern at a major Christian publishing house. What a learning experience! And now I often use my skills to help friends and friends of friends edit the books they’ve written to further the gospel and share hope with the world. Not the way I planned to do things, but it’s been so rewarding.

Either He's God or He's Not

My parents divorced after nearly 27 years of marriage. Not gonna lie—this has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced. It caused me to question every aspect of my life and rethink all of my childhood memories. And it’s wreaked havoc on my entire family. But God has taught me a lot about what’s important in life, and I’ve seen my family come to rely on Him in ways they never have before—a blessing amid the ashes.

Now, as Jonathan and I face an unknown future yet again, I’m excited about the challenges it will bring and the ways God will grow us. I can’t share details now, but we might have some big changes coming up before the year ends, and I know they’ll stretch us in new ways. (For the record—we’re not pregnant!)

I can look back on what God has already done in my life and quote Jeremiah 29:11 with so much more confidence: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Four Years

Four years ago today, we got married.

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I’ll spare you the sappy I-love-my-husband-so-much post. It’s true, but I’m pretty sure you already knew that :)

We’re celebrating by spending a few days on Lake Superior north of Duluth. It’s a bit foggy and cold (would you believe it’s only 65 up here? It was 92 when we left Duluth yesterday, and that’s only an hour south of us!), but we’re enjoying the quiet time away. We’ve actually got the whole week off work, so I’ll post more pictures of our adventures later, but here are a few of my favorites so far. . .

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Lately I’m . . .

run-for-the-borderRunning for the border—No, not Mexico. Or Canada . . . Back in May, I set a goal to run/walk/bike 100 miles between Memorial Day and July 14 in order to raise money for meals for Burmese refugees living on the border between Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Thailand. So far, I’ve completed about 84 miles. Jonathan is also doing 100 miles, but he’s running all of his. My next post will have more details about why we’re participating in Run for the Border.

GrizzlyLearning to be intentional—God has really been challenging me to be intentional in my living, meaning I shouldn’t just be going through the motions without thinking. I have a limited amount of time and I need to use it wisely. (This picture has nothing to do with being intentional—it’s a grizzly we saw at the Minnesota Zoo on Memorial Day. I love bears.)

warren-dunesClimbing a sand dune—Jonathan and I made a trip to Ohio and Michigan in May to attend a friend’s wedding and visit my family. On our way home, we stopped at Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan. I got ambitious and wanted to climb a sand dune. They’re a lot steeper than they look.

family-timeCelebrating with family—We’ve been spending a lot of time with Jonathan’s family over the last few months between birthdays and Father’s Day and visits from out-of-town siblings. In case you’re wondering, the last picture is Simeon trying to retrieve a frisbee from the roof.

Storm-damageSurviving a storm—Almost two weeks ago, we were driving through downtown Minneapolis when we got hit by what Jonathan said was the worst storm he’s ever seen, short of a hurricane. We drove through half a foot of water, drove under a downed power line, parked next to a tree that had already fallen to protect our car from damage, and survived without electricity or hot water for 24 hours (lots of people had to wait several days–we were lucky!). Things are back to normal now, minus a few trees . . .

Insignificant Details

Family

(Ignore the fact that this is a picture from my wedding—it’s the most recent family photo I could find.)

Today would have been my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, and I’d be lying if I said it feels like just another day. It’s another reminder that in the past three years, my entire family has changed.

I remember when my mom called and said she had something to talk to me about, but I was on my way to get an oil change, and she wanted me to call her when I got home. It had to be something big—I thought someone had died. So I drove to Precision Tune, praying for all of my family members, sure that my grandpa or maybe my aunt had passed away. I sat and sat and sat while they worked on my car, and then I collected my keys and drove home, completely preoccupied.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had left the rest of my keys—including the one to my apartment—sitting in the chair at Precision Tune. Distracted, I backed out of my parking space—nearly taking out a biker (“Sorry! I’m so sorry!”)—and went back for my keys.

These details aren’t really important. But I remember the day just like I remember September 11—it’s one of those Red Letter days, one of those life-altering days, one of those days everyone remembers and asks, “Where were you when . . . ?”

I was getting an oil change the day I found out my parents were separating (they divorced a year later).

Then we went to church so Jonathan could participate in a dodgeball game against the youth group. And I sat against the wall in the gym, completely oblivious. I was in shock. I was angry. I was hurt. I couldn’t believe it. My mom had decided she was going to leave my dad.

Yet life continued on around me.

That night I dreamt my whole family watched as my mom got chased by a monster. She could have outrun it. But she didn’t fight back, and it ate her.

And there was nothing I could do about it.

Thankful for Little

With thanksgiving coming up, I decided to do a short series on what I’m thankful for. Click here to read my introduction and first post.

Today, I’m thankful that I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of money. It was hard not being able to get some of the things I wanted, missing out on class trips, and not getting to play on a soccer team or take dance classes, but having limited funds then has really shaped who I am now.

I’ve become a bargain hunter—I love the thrill of finding a good deal.  The downside is that I often have a hard time paying more than $20 for clothes or accessories. Shoes included. But now I know how to find the good deals, how to hold out for them, and how to forgo a purchase if I can’t get one . . . most of the time. (Speaking of Black Friday—and I know you weren’t—what is America coming to? Does anyone else see the irony of following up Thanksgiving with a day full of the scariest displays of consumerism available in the US? Anyway . . . )

I’ve also learned that stuff isn’t everything. There’s more to life than having a Barbie Dream House, Furby, Tamagotchi, or other must-have item. (Those are all things I asked for and never really got, by the way.) And, despite my constant desire to shop, especially on a bad day, I know stuff won’t fix my problems or make me happy. The best things in life aren’t made of metal or plastic. And they certainly aren’t on clearance at Target.

Sometimes I forget these things, but if I hadn’t learned them as a kid, Jonathan and I would probably be broke by now . . .