Thursday, November 26, 2009

F*cebook Thanksgiving Challenge

This Thanksgiving challenge showed up on F*cebook earlier this month. I decided to take it on, and try to post one thing per day I'm thankful for, and I'm listing it here as well so I can remember the whole list at once.

A couple times I got a day behind, but found that my omission was only online... I had taken time to be grateful for a blessing each day, but occasionally forgot to document it.

Today, I'm thankful for...

7 - Lots of cuddle and play time with my cute nephew, Charlie.
8 - A wonderful afternoon with aunts, uncles and cousins, and especially for connecting with out-of-state cousins on Skype.
9 - Leftover chocolate cake and ice cream. Yummy!
10 - A beautiful sunny day and that I don't have to drive to class in the dark since it starts at 4 before it gets dark.
11 - Extra thankful today for the freedoms afforded her by the sacrifices of all veterans. I probably can't fully appreciate that everything they have done makes my life so much better.
11 (again, I was really thankful today!) - Got to do some early birthday celebrating today by having breakfast with friends I don't see enough, and then going to Disneyland with Jeanine to see the Christmas decorations.
12 - Enjoyed a fun girls night out with Genevieve, Sarah & Jeanine at The Melting Pot. Chocolate fondue... yummy.
13 - Spent a day shopping with my mom and SIL, which was lots of fun, and very thankful to get some Christmas shopping done.
14 - Today's my birthday! I'm enjoying all the birthday wishes from friends and family.
15 - Great fellowship at church this morning and a nice dinner out with my family tonight to celebrate my birthday.
16 - Got a lot of work done on my final project today. Plenty more to do before deadline Thursday, it's crunch time!
17 - Thankful for a few precious minutes cuddling with her newest cousin, and seeing his mom, dad and big sister, all visiting from Alberta. Is there anything sweeter than a baby sleeping in your arms?
18 - Feeling better today after a week+ of headaches, which I'm blaming on stress.
19 - My final project for my masters is finished, printed and turned in!
20 - Two things: I received an unexpected refund from San Diego State due to receiving a grant. How Cool is that??? Secondly, and even more wonderful, celebrating the birth of Susannah to my dear friends the Sharps.
21 - A wonderful afternoon with the Ligtenberg family for an early Thanksgiving celebration. Great times!!
22 - A very relaxing and enjoyable day with my good friend Rebecca. A day to just play and have fun is a welcome break in the routine.
23 -Got a few things checked off the to-do list today, this is good. Also, I'm gratefully anticipating a few days off this week.
24 -My cousin went into early labor today (2 months early) and I'm thankful docs were able stop contractions in an effort to keep her baby growing a little longer. So far, so good. We're hoping he makes it about 5 more weeks.
25 -I prepared 4 lbs of green beans for tomorrow's big dinner, and gratefully note that I'm blessed with plenty of food to eat, a warm place to sleep tonight, and loved ones to spend Thanksgiving with tomorrow. God is good, ALL the time.

November 26, 2009 - Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!-- Originally posted at:

Friday, November 20, 2009

I stand corrected... but not for long, I need to go to the bank

My very last post was about making my last payment to San Diego State, only 10 days ago. A payment I deliberately waited to make until the due date, since I resented just a bit that this payment is what was responsible for the majority of the huge increase in college costs this semester.

Well, that increase estimate requires an adjustment, because I got a check BACK from the college today, a result of being awarded a grant specifically towards the extra costs. I feel blessed. And now I need to go to the bank. :)

Originally posted at:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thank you for your payment

I made my last payment to San Diego State this morning. I think. I hope. I can't believe I'm going to be finished next month!! People keep saying, "Wow, that's fast!" to which I can only reply: "I know!" Trust me, it's gone by quickly. Why is it that when I thought about what 18 months was going to feel like at the beginning, it seemed like forever, but now it feels like that was yesterday?

So I've decided I'm not going to attend graduation. They don't hold a ceremony in December, so I'd have to wait until May. I'm realizing this is the second time I'm graduating in December, as I finished my Calvin degree then, too. Amidst all the holiday stuff, it's hard for it to not get lost in the other seasonal festivities. At Calvin, I actually walked in the May graduation before I finished, so getting my degree was sort of a non-event. Although I did get some cool presents, including a Calvin Alumni t-shirt I still have to this day. :)

Last week was "grad fest" at the bookstore, so I checked out all the (expensive) extras: graduation announcements, diploma frames, class rings. I've always wanted one of those super-fancy diploma frames, and Calvin has them, too. Now I need two of them. Maybe I'll wait until I actually have some wall space to hang them on, but wouldn't these look nice on that imaginary wall? (Links for the curious: Calvin frame here and SDSU frame here.)

I may eventually indulge in these, but I think I'm going to forgo the other extras. Instead, the money I'm saving is going towards the big party I'm having in January. Doesn't that sound like more fun than sitting through a long graduation ceremony?

Originally posted at:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Giveaways

I can't remember how I first ended up on the 5 Minutes for Mom blog... since, um, I'm not a mom. I do enjoy some of their related sites, 5 Minutes for Books and 5 Minutes for Giveaways. Oh, right giveaways... that was probably it. And they just kicked off their biggest giveaway season of the year, with 30 great giveaways during the month of November. Check it out here.

In conjunction with their giveaway for readers, they also sponsor a great program called Under the Tree, where identical gifts to the ones given away on their blog are given to families in need. At this post, you can read more about it, nominate a family, or just start on some early holiday warm fuzzies by reading about doing good things for people who need it. :)

This just in (11/20/2009) - today's giveaway is a SWEET new computer. Check it out!

Another one I can't resist: this adorable Minky blanket (11/24/2009.)

Originally posted at:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Month of Sundays

I missed church a lot in October. I went to a wedding one Sunday, was out of town the next, and walked in the Race for the Cure on the third Sunday, the last being an event I do every year. Although I made it back to church last Sunday for the first time in a month, I had volunteer responsibilities. Today, I was able to simply be at church, enjoying the worship, hearing the teaching, and indulging in some coffee, fellowship, and a lesson about the Reformation in Sunday School after the service.

I remember thinking a month ago, that it felt kind of good to have a break. I am usually volunteering in one way or another at least 1-2 times a month, and sometimes church feels like a duty and not a joy. But today, it was so good to be back and just soak in all the goodness of being part of it. It is good to give, but it is a blessing to receive.

Originally posted at:

Books: Mark of the Lion Series

I previously wrote about the first book in this series, A Voice in the Wind, and have since finished the second and third books as well.

The second book, An Echo in the Darkness, picks up with many of the same primary characters and continues their story. In this book, we see how unwise decisions made by many of the characters lead to heartbreak and destruction in their lives, but that the gospel of Jesus brings healing, hope, and redemption.

The last book, As Sure As the Dawn, picks up the story of one character not in book 2, and follows his life. He too is drawn by the irresistible grace of God. This story was very different from the first two, and one might consider it sort of a "spinoff," to use a TV term. However, it is the characters in this story who most boldly share with others the love and grace God has poured into their lives.

At our church, we've been hearing lessons on becoming "Bold Jesus Proclaimers." We're studying together the scriptures of early Christians, like Paul, who dedicated his life to sharing the gospel, and boldly and unashamedly did so. Although fictional tales, I find that the stories and characters of these books can be as inspiring as true stories of those that boldly share their faith.

A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn
by Francine Rivers

Originally posted at:

Book: In an Instant

I've learned in the last few years that I really enjoy reading biographies, and this one was no exception.

Bob Woodruff, a well-known and loved reporter, was famously injured while traveling as an journalist embedded with a military unit in Iraq. Although the story centers around Bob, it is primarily his wife Lee who writes the story of his injuries, treatment, and recovery.

But really, those details set the stage for what Publisher's Weekly calls a "beautiful story of marriage for better and for worse." I felt this was a good description, as what shines through in this story is the Woodruffs' dedication to and love for one another.

Bob's intense career as a national journalist in the years prior to his injuries meant his family traveled all over the country and the world, often moving every year or two. Through the challenges of frequent relocation and Bob frequently traveling, they built a strong relationship that stood the test during the difficult season. The stories of moments in their marriage prior to Bob's injuries and during his recovery were heart-warming. I really enjoyed this book.

In an Instant
by Lee & Bob Woodruff

-- Originally posted at:

Book: Into the Wild

I've enjoyed the two other Krakauer books I've read, Under the Banner of Heaven and Into Thin Air, so naturally I've been anxious to read this one for a while. I don't follow new book releases, so I didn't learn of this book until the movie was due to come out and the book was re-released with a movie tie-in cover. My dad enjoys Krakauer, too, so naturally I bought the book immediately and gave it to him for Christmas last year... knowing I'd have the chance to borrow it back when he finished it. I know, I know, totally selfish. My penance was waiting 10 months until he got around to reading it!

Krakauer again tells a compelling story, and I can't help but enjoy a book that is enjoyable to read, even when the topic is one I wouldn't normally select. Nope, I can't relate so much to a young guy who decides to walk into the Alaskan bush just to see if he can make it on his own. Making it on my own to me just means not having roommates in a modern shelter with heat, a/c and running water, preferably convenient to decent shopping. My dreams of visiting Alaska someday include travel by cruise ship. I've never been, but I hear it's an amazingly beautiful piece of earth, and I fully intend to make it there someday.

Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan bush, forsaking society and anything he felt was a luxury. Part of me can't help but admire his desire for adventure, despite his apparent lack of judgment on some things, and a few bad choices. My dad's perspective on this story was that Kraukauer spends the entire book trying to convince the reader that Chris was not, in fact, crazy, despite what many thought. My perspective was a bit different, that he treated the story fairly and objectively. The state of Chris's sanity when he walked into the bush will never truly be known, but there is room to believe that he was - or not.

In any case, not a book everyone would enjoy, but again, an interesting read.

Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
Originally posted at: