Saturday, December 31, 2011

From Everlasting to Everlasting

313. a really great sermon tonight on Psalm 190
314. a new church where I can be a part of a community and grow and learn (and experience grace and learn to show grace and make mistakes and grow and be)
315. conversations with other women, young and old, who teach me and show me more about Christ
316. a very encouraging conversation with Nikki tonight...she is also teaching 3 different grades of literature at a classical school, and I could really identify with her struggles and joys (and she with mine). We have such similar personalities and similar jobs that it is very refreshing (and reassuring!) to hear her perspective.
317. a trip home for see my immediate family, my church family (Faith Bible Fellowship was like a big reunion--for me anyway--on Christmas day...Heather and Corey were there, Jessica, Laura, and so many other dear faces), some extended family, and just to take some "mandatory" time away from the routine of work.
318. a really good year...lots of lessons and mistakes, and a greater understanding of grace, and some really great times as well (moving up to teach in the Upper School, becoming a part of a new community, cultivating some new friendships, good times spent with old friends, a trip out west, finishing my MA--finally!, some more relaxed time this summer spent with my family, and overall a blessed and full year).
319. myself and often with my students. (When I was in Richmond for Thanksgiving, Cristy and I were exchanging teaching stories. I told her that my students often make me laugh, and that I actually had to tell them that they could only make me laugh for the right reasons--it has to relate to the literature we are discussing--and she said, "Be thankful for any opportunity to laugh--it is a blessing!" I am very, very blessed indeed, for I frequently laugh with my students.
320. a new year and the promises and prayers in Psalm 90: "from everlasting to everlasting you are God"; "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days"; "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

"All times are his seasons"

"He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring, though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, As the sheaves in harvest to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, And all times are his seasons."
--John Donne, Christmas day sermon, 1624

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bone broth

301. a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup in the fridge (thankfully homemade stock is pretty much fool-proof and adds SO much!)
302. bone broth in the crock pot (so medicinal--and I am determined not to get sick again)
303. a long walk on a brisk Saturday afternoon when I needed a break from grading and prepping
304. reading Upper School senior theses and working so closely with students on their writing (and learning from their topics!) ;)
305. Christmas tinsel and white lights lining the stairway
306. conversations with roommates
307. Kaitlyn and Kory coming for a quick visit last weekend (saw "Romeo and Juliet" at LU with my students and me)--Kaitlyn can drive!!
308. a boss who is so thoughtful and caring when I am sick (even asked if I needed to take another sick day!) and other teachers who cover my classes for me (silly stomach bug)
309. new sweaters in the middle of December
310. Stacey's beautiful example of friendship to Laura during this time--I wish I could be there and had more time to give!
311. an honest and encouraging conversation with Marion over a glass of wine
312. bedtime and sleep--and the acceptance of its necessity, even when I don't feel as though I have accomplished enough (Psalm 127:2 anyone?)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

breaks with family

290. turkey dinner with cousins, aunts and uncles, Pop, and my immediate family (except for Karissa)
291. a very warm fall weekend, perfect for a long walk after dinner
292. playing UNO with cousins...all sorts of old memories
293. conversations with Cristy and Timothy and Uncle Ron about theology, etc.
294. funny conversations about grammar and MLA formatting with aunts (who are also teachers) and cousins
295. listening to Dad play piano and a few others singing "In Christ Alone" and "Before the Throne of God Above"
296. Aunt Debbie's upbeat attitude despite her illness/injury
297. walking her dog with Kaitlyn and Kory (on an even more gorgeous day--if that were possible!)
298. raking leaves with Kory and Dad outside (on yet another gorgeous fall day...I love warm weather late in the year)
299. sitting outside on the porch with Kaitlyn, both of us reading and trying to dodge the dog's slobbery mouth :)
300. listening to Kaitlyn play her violin and Kory singing as I type... :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

good friends

286. picking Kimberly up from the airport and catching up with her...I think I learned more medical terminology in an hour than I knew before! ;) It was good to laugh and catch up and hear how she's been!
287. a safe trip home to my family
288. petite little white roses from Onastazia...very lovely on my desk (in a vial from the science lab--ha!)
289. a few days off of school

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thoughtfulness (and thankfulness!) of students

282. Sunday night with the women of my church, singing songs of thanksgiving, hearing powerful testimonies of God's grace, and engaging in community with others desiring to live the Christian life
283. dinner last night with the Oleniks and Shannon and Toby (I can never remember their last name)--it was a low key get together and refreshing--I appreciate them inviting me in, as I know they've all been meeting on Monday nights for a while
284. beautiful, warm November days
285. thank you notes from my students--so sweet and thoughtful--they shocked me and I wondered if they could even be genuine. It is rewarding to teach students who are thankful and willing to say so. Makes me feel even more humbled and inadequate...but I love them so much! (At the end of the day yesterday, I had two thoughts: (1) I must have the sweetest students in the world, and (2) I sure do wish they would remember to put their names on their assignments before they turn them in!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

familiar faces

278. seeing Kaitlyn and Kory (and a bunch of others) in a really great production of Les Miserables tonight. (They did such a great job...and I can't believe how old all those "kids" have gotten.) What a play.
279. unexpectedly seeing Stephanie at the play...we never coordinate which nights we will be there, so I was so excited to see her there and to catch up a bit!
280. listening to Michael Card's "Starkindler" while driving home in the dark--absolutely gorgeous album
281. seeing so many familiar and comfortable faces. I really enjoyed catching up and talking to many I hadn't seen in a while

Friday, November 18, 2011

warm blankets

268. Grace that is greater than all my sin
269. outside on a cold fall night, with fires and heaters, listening to students recite poetry
270. a lovely bagpipe performance
271. students who make me laugh far too hard at myself
272. my co-workers
273. a free Chick-fil-a sandwich
274. wasting a little time tonight listening to Christmas music
275. a really great article on the distinction between procrastination and rest...and the discipline required to make that distinction a reality
276. warm blankets on a bitter cold night
277. bedtime ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


or, rather, sorrowful yet always rejoicing.

262. reading Shakespeare with really great students
263. warm fall mornings
264. a father who is doing the best he can with his 3 young children as his wife is dying--such a gentle, broken man, getting booster seats out of the van for the field trip, doing all he can for his precious children
265. a refreshing talk with a fellow teacher while the students danced
266. my students making me laugh at myself (they were saying it was funny how fast I was running at the cemetery last week--Shelby found a quote from the Rubaiyat on one of the plaques, and when Collyn asked about it, right at the end, as we were all about to head back to the buses, I told her we could run and see it really quickly, so Sarah, Collyn, and I took off running to see the quote--leave it to Collyn and Caleb to make me laugh at myself, though! ;)
267. regret, forgiveness, and learning hard lessons in the context of grace...always, always understanding grace just a little more, bit by bit.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumny foods, cemeteries, and hard lessons

242. a good night's sleep
243. whole food vitamins (esp. when my throat is sore!)
244. pumpkin cookies (I have an excuse: they were for a baby shower)
245. homemade sweet potato fries (I've decided that sweet potatoes and pumpkin make even the impending winter cold OK) ;)
246. making Brunswick stew outside in a cauldron with my parents
247. more invitations to social events than I can attend and keep my sanity (and thus, learning a crucial lesson: how to say no without guilt)
248. a service project in Old City Cemetery with my students--it was refreshing to dig in the dirt (weeding), lay mulch, pick up sticks, and spend time with students in such a different context
249. Onastazia's perspective, encouragement, and realness
250. feeling excitement about church before I get there (I've always been refreshed and encouraged and convicted and glad I've gone after the fact, but now I look forward to church all weekend! Entering into a new community has been scary and stretched me, but I really do love it)
251. singing "Before the Throne of God Above" at church
252. hiking Dragon's tooth with my new church family (LOVE this hike--want to go back soon!)
253. Learning more about grace not only at work but also from my new church family (and esp. when I lightly rear-ended a family--it was a nice vehicle--when I was trying to park on the side of the road...still no idea what happened) :(
254. Laura's love for India and Byju and God's perfect orchestration of that situation (and prayers for her that she'll be able to return very soon!)
255. being summoned for jury duty--not exciting, but thankful that I've been placed in America and given a voice in the government
256. watching little sisters grow and mature
257. watching students grow and mature :)
258. conviction to be more involved in the community--love that I am in a reformed community that takes this seriously--I want to fill out a volunteer application with the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center
259. roommates who (1) have a much better memory than I do about how to pronounce literary names, and (2) can teach me all sorts of things in the kitchen!
260. a letter from my sponsored child in Togo, Bernadette; she drew me a pineapple! ;)
261. a conversation with a student--at the end of the day--who has so much perspective and wisdom and honesty, who said the exact words I needed to hear--words about decisions she'd made about how she wanted to live her life--just when I had been most guilty of doing the opposite. Father, thank you for such a convicting (yet gentle) reminder. Change my heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Autumn sun

236. lingering Autumn warmth in the late afternoons, before the brisk evenings as the sun drops
237. the end of Wessex Drive, as it follows the crest of a hill, reaches toward the sun and provides some late afternoon vitamin D even when I leave work late and Daylight Savings time has already come (or gone? which happens in the fall?)
238. one of the hardest weeks at school I've ever had--not because of the students or the material or anything in the classroom but because of my own sin. Overwhelming at times and the remorse and the guilt paralyzes. The ugliness of my own sin has never seemed more horrific; I glimpsed but a bit of my unawareness of the wretchedness of my heart. But then Grace seems so much greater. And I pick up the pieces--even as I still feel poured out, broken, unable to collect myself--and do the next thing and cry curled up in the closet as I try to push past the pride and scan the words of Scripture and go back to work the next day and smile and laugh and talk and learn and grow and fall. But grace--new glimpses and new understandings--follows the guilt and regret and the sorrow--indeed it is so mixed in with them that I don't know if it can be separated. So I am grateful for the revealing of sin and for mercies new each morning.
239. conversations at work--when I'm at my worst and when I am occasionally at my best--that almost mandate community when I need it most and fear it most
240. a gorgeous sunset--from the crest of the hill at the top of Wessex Drive--dark hues vivid and crisp silhouetting leafless trees and dark branches
241. students uninhibited on the dance floor

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grace Unmeasured

...and other things I'm learning in the new (of sorts) communities in which I've been placed. (Grace Unmeasured is a new song from church I've been singing all week!)
231. open window nights (and mornings)
232. hard work from a struggling student
233. a three day weekend coming much as I love school, I need that extra day to play catch up from work I didn't get to at the end of the summer
234. watching God's beautiful plan for Laura unfold in India
235. matins every morning in a community of believers

Monday, August 29, 2011

the promise of a new day

219. crickets in unison, behind closed windows
220. early morning darkness surrounding a computer screen
221. Kate sleeping across the room
222. the beginning of a new week, and the promise of strength to do what He has given me to do
223. the end of the first week of school: being back in the classroom lessens my anxiety and makes me more confident; the students are very good (for the most part) and I love what I teach and I love them! I am learning so much myself--still so much to learn and this year still seems daunting--but I still find it so humbling and hard to believe that this is my job--to learn alongside the students and to just keep learning the best way to share the things I learn with them. So daunting but oh-so-exciting. :)
224. the Upper School teachers who stopped by my room after the first day (which was most of them)--how encouraging! God doesn't allow me to dwell on my inadequacies for long!
225. MP's laughter and perspective when I unnecessarily apologized
226. Lance's willingness to help and down-to-earth honesty
227. dinner with Heidi, Natalie, and Kathryn--transitioning to a new community of sorts (moving to the Upper School, switching churches, getting new roommates, and being more fully involved at NCS and entering more fully into the community) always reveals things to me about myself that I'd rather didn't exist. But I appreciate those who still spend time with me, who reach out and care and put up with my silliness, because I have learned (and am learning) so much!
228. good conversations with a new roommate
229. potlucks at church
230. seeing Nikki unexpectedly (and sharing teacher stories and tips!)--she came into Lynchburg to escape Hurricane Irene since she lives on the coast!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

music and lamps

215. new speakers in my classroom and classical music playing as I work
216. a new lamp on my desk--makes reading under florescent lights so much easier!
217. a good conversation with the landlord after things had gotten tense (failure to communicate some of the changes this summer led to some accusations we hadn't anticipated since our last landlord didn't care how many of us are in the house)--it went so much better than we anticipated!
218. great roommates (and good communication)

Friday, August 19, 2011

a broken record

Well, not really. But that's how I feel this week--the community at work is so wonderful and the interactions with my colleagues are some of the greatest gifts. I've never realized how much we are created for community until now. (OK, well maybe in grad school, but it was a more artificial community, I think, where we were all doing the exact same thing. Now, to see our gifts--both academic and social--mesh in so many different ways is really exciting!)

205. Natalie's tight hug
206. her straight talk when I was being paranoid and listening to lies (I did not even realize how much I was doing so and refusing to believe--and remind myself of--the truth until she said something). I was struggling with inferiority, convinced of things others were not seeing, and she just gently, lovingly told me "You are are just...ridiculous!"
207. Heidi's teasing (which is *almost* all deserved) :)
208. Kathryn's smile and encouragement--and gentle way of reassuring me that some decisions really are mine to make (i.e. the arrangement of tables in my classroom)
209. Marion's smile and humor--of course, sometimes I'm not sure I exactly want to be the cause of one of her smiles, but she is so encouraging and has our backs :)
210. Onastazia's openness and friendliness--so thankful she is in the high school with me!
211. the encouragement and tips from the older teachers in the middle school (esp. last year)
212. Lance's helpfulness and general laid-back-ness
213. John's welcoming and kind words, stopping by my room despite all he has to do
214. lots of other instances where I have been so sharpened by others around me...and writing this out, I cannot believe how well some of the others know me...I need to do better at acting like an adult. But I am so thankful for the community in which I have been placed...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

morning stillness

201. waking long before my alarm to an open window and crickets chirping
202. singing "Non Nobis Domine" with all the other faculty at matins (I could have said this any day this week--so gorgeous!)
203. a phone conversation with Nikki last night...we've played phone tag ALL summer so it was great to catch up. And she is doing almost exactly what I'm doing--three different high school English levels at a classical school. It was so great to hear from her!
204. a freshly painted living room and kitchen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a community at work

199. coworkers who make me laugh, calm me down, are honest with me, encourage me, teach me, share their insights, give hugs, smile, and in general welcome me into a community. I love my job so much more because of it and could not do what I do without them :)
200. supervisors who also do all of the

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

open windows, co-workers, and a new classroom

192. the first open window night of the season...I love waking up to the sound of crickets and a bit of a breeze
193. friendships with my co-workers (Although in some cases this is really stretching me because I am forming new relationships and learning a lot and seeing myself in a new light just as I am at church as I get to know many new people, I really do love the community at NCS. Especially all the friendships I made last year in the middle school--I really love those people. But I am excited about getting to know better those in the high school, too!)
194. my new supervisor--he is so laid back and we seem to approach things the same way and see eye to eye for the most part! I am opening up and asserting myself and asking questions far more than I usually do!
195. a green classroom (it is pea green, and a couple of others who have stopped by do not like it, but it makes it seem warm, so I like it!)--I also love having my own space and having a place to work!
196. a student who was at the school yesterday who came by and helped me get my classroom set up
197. new dress skirts on sale really cheap (I promise I really went to Ross to look for a clock for my classroom. But, you know, I had to check out the skirts, too) ;)
198. late summer evenings when the sun still sets so late...allowing for a jog later on yesterday evening

Monday, August 15, 2011

teacher training

186. quiet morning before work
187. boiled eggs
188. leftover peach juice from Heidi's shower (I finally opened it) :)
189. teacher training
190. encouragement at church yesterday--I really felt God's affirmation that that is where I should be. Although being vulnerable and opening myself up in a new community is always hard for me, I am grateful for those who I've already gotten to know a bit (and the things about myself I've recognized as a result)
191. an afternoon with Stacey yesterday--again, one of those old friendships I cannot imagine losing, even if we keep in touch only sporadically. Refreshing to be honest with her.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


181. teacher training at Blackfriar's playhouse--so much to learn and so many great discussions
182. watching The Importance of Being Earnest
183. drizzly rain outside
184. indoor workouts on a Saturday morning
185. my own desk (and a little classroom off the library!) at the school! I just found out that I'll have one, and I am headed there now for a productive Saturday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


176. a very, very encouraging (and freeing!) phone call last night about a decision I have been praying about
177. stopping in to see a former professor (who is so much more than that) who told me I looked more healthy and happy than I have for quite a while!
178. a "window seat" in the library, with natural light and a view of the mountains
179. raw almonds (easily eaten subtly because of the "no outside food or drink" signs--*ahem*)
180. quiet moments, sitting in silence, reading, thinking, without being distracted by guilt or regret

mesas, friendship, family, and New Mexico in general :)

I wasn't as diligent to keep track by hand of this next part of the trip as we went. Still, there were plenty of gifts along the way, and I will make note of the most significant here:
167. visiting Uncle Ken and Aunt Susan in Los Alamos: it was GREAT to see their house, the view of the mountains and mesas from their back deck, and to be able to stay with them
168. the rain they experienced while we were there (after all the fires, 100% contained only in the last week, this was significant and sorely needed)
169. that, although the rain disrupted one of our hikes, it didn't disrupt our sightseeing as much as it could have--it kept storming just before or after we most wanted clear skies!
170. the tram in Albuquerque at sunset--phenomenal! And according to our guide, it was the clearest night in quite some time! The sunset, the moon, the mountains beneath us, the city below us--magnificent!
172. seeing Jessica again--on her own turf at the Zuni reservation in NM! It was sooo good to see her. She is such a good friend. It is amazing how easy it is to pick up with a dear friend even after years. The time with her was so sweet. I've missed her so much...and the little bit of time we did have was just a reminder to me to stay in touch with those dear friends that I have from each stage of life. It isn't a huge number, but it is a fair number of girlfriends who I cannot imagine losing contact with...and I want to be more deliberate to pray for them. They are SUCH blessings!
173. flying back into Richmond (safety in the air, etc.--I love flying but don't take safety for granted!) and seeing my cousins briefly. Some really good conversations with them--we are all growing up (at last!) ;)
174. spending part of the day with my family--long morning run, swimming with the girls, making salsa with mom--before heading back to Lynchburg
175. the green-ness of Virginia: yes, after all that travel, I am so thankful to be back at the foot of the mountains, in the rolling hills, with tall green trees. I love Virginia!

I will try to post some pictures at some point!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

quiet mornings

163. ceiling fans
164. quiet mornings
165. Isaiah 6
166. a really great rental car for the next part of the trip

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

things little and big

158. a jog on the level Texas terrain
159. the Texas sun
160. failing, learning, communicating, apologizing, forgiving--and, hopefully, although I can't see it myself, growing
161. a good talk with Dad on the phone
162. a roommate who waters my plants while I am gone :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

iron sharpens iron (and other lessons along the way)

145. the gym in the hotel ;)
146. safety pulling a trailer in downtown Dallas (yes, this was the scariest part of the trip)
147. a parking space in front of the only empty space in a VERY crowded lot opened up just as we pulling into the empty space (if you'd seen traffic, you would realize that even ONE empty space was a miracle, much less two facing spaces) so that we could pull the trailer all the way in (it would not have fit in the parking lot otherwise!). (Megan wanted to introduce me to In-N-Out. We had to drive through Dallas anyway, so we stopped. But, the temperature gauge on the jeep indicated we were overheating, and we were in heavy traffic and then unable to find a space to park, so it was nerve-wracking. But the facing spaces was definitely a HUGE mercy at just the right time!)
148. the temperature gauge never coming back on!
149. trees spread low, as if bowing or making room for the large Texas sky
150. the big wind turbines in west Texas--stretching on for miles and miles as the sun set in front of us--gorgeous part of the trip!
151. sunset--and the view interrupted only by windmills (heading west gave us some gorgeous view of the sunset while we drove!)--Texas sunsets are awe-inducing!
152. windows down as we drive down a long Texas highway
153. wide open skies at night (this struck me so much more than during the day!)
154. the big sky and the stars--and the wind on my face--and the song in my heart--all helped me to see and understand more deeply than I have before that I am more precious than gold to the God who created the heavens and earth and set the stars in place)
155. laughing hysterically while driving the long way around the 289 circle to Megan's house in Lubbock
156. a solid night's sleep on the floor in her new room
157. two very timely articles--one by Noel Piper and one by Dr. Prior--on friendship, accountability, and iron sharpening iron: very convicting for me anyway, as it is something I struggle with as an severe introvert, but VERY timely on this trip. Lots to learn about myself, both as I receive and encourage such "sharpening" (I'll post these soon!)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

the scenery on a detour... :)

140. bonding while (attempting, anyway) backing the trailer out of Marissa's driveway
141. crossing the wide Mississippi
142. safety when we accidentally stopped for gas in a not-so-good part of town
143. being stopped in traffic as a gorgeous sun set on the wide Texas horizon
144. safety while pumping gas as a tractor-trailer burned nearby (*ahem* this is quite a story...and we were going to run out of gas otherwise!)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

mercy on the road

131. getting to visit with my family briefly before we left for Texas...they came and picked up my car and we had ice cream together :)
132. eggs and salsa with Kate before she heads north and I head south
133. being asked to edit a chapter of a book--which I really enjoy doing :)
134. sunny skies as we drive
135. the leak under the jeep was only "sweat" from the AC (we were working it hard pulling a trailer over the mountains, so we were keeping an eye on it)
136. the guy at the gas station who left the hose in his tank as he went inside for a long time while we were waiting for the pump--which slowed us down and kept us further from a tractor-trailer wreck
137. safety when mixed-up in an unfamiliar city at night
138. dinner with Marissa late at night--reminiscing, facing unfamiliar challenges ahead, talking about change
139. being slaphappy and feeling comfortable with old friends

Friday, July 29, 2011

dead batteries

128. a dead iPod battery on my run this morning
129. birds chirping, eager to welcome the day
130. new (to me!) bedroom furniture (the room looks so lovely!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ruffled blankets

123. clean sheets and a clean comforter
124. ruffled blankets on the bed (I often sit under a blanket while I read--the AC keeps me cold!)
125. a card from a dear friend, scattered in a ruffle in the blanket next to a book, serving as a bookmark
126. quiet mornings with a roommate: she is writing; I am reading
127. the end of phone tag with Nikki--we finally talked!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

recent days

108. summer days filled with reading, workouts, hot sun, and errands
109. two dear friends, moving to new places
110. a fellowship meal with strangers who felt like anything but strangers
111. new friends, new fellowship, receiving, accepting, learning
112. dinner at the Jantomasos--I learn so much from them and love being with their family
113. old man on his porch, asking about my run
114. better understanding some of my focus problems and finding an herbal remedy that seems to address several different problems!
115. nervousness channeled into productivity...sometimes, anyway! I think I am getting a little better at this!
116. friends who make me laugh--at myself
117. clean closets :)
118. not so clean kitchens :/ (this moving in and out is almost over--I have to keep reminding myself!)
119. a roommate who also has an Apple computer when my computer cord stops working ;)
120. fresh tomatoes and peppers off the vine :)
121. kefir smoothies
122. red grapes on sale (yummmm)

Thursday, July 21, 2011


103. sitting outside on a sunny (and very hot!) night, watching Twelfth Night at Endstation Theatre (I love that my "week of Shakespeare" can be considered work! After all, I do get to teach this stuff in the fall!)
104. watching the sun set over the mountains, sky of pink creating silhouettes
105. a helpful co-worker who is very willing to answer my questions about next year
106. field trips to Blackfriar's with my students planned--hooray!
107. ice cream floats

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

muted sun

99. seeing Hamlet at Blackfriar's in Staunton...amazing performance and conversation on the way home
100. good gas mileage :)
101. draped curtains, barely touching the floor, allowing muted sun onto the carpet
102. a flock of birds on the hillside

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


96. a little sparrow, hopping along the side of the ditch, staying beside me for a moment as I go
97. gray morning sky
98. a plane ticket coming down in price (hooray for Tuesdays!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

midday sun

92. enjoying the midday sun while I listen to my students' summer reading books, thanks to (it's OK, though...I've read these books before, so I can justify just listening to them this summer!)
93. quiet moments getting caught up on reading (well, sort of) :)
94. a big salad with cheese on top :)
95. blackberry and peach frozen yogurt (I didn't know I had favorites until I had that tonight!)
96. standing outside of Sweet Frog in the cool of the evening, laughing, building memories, saying goodbye

Sunday, July 17, 2011


88. two church services, two meals shared, and lots of vulnerability--so encouraging to fellowship with others, old and young, serious and silly
89. a little toddler, missing a nap because of the loud cheering for the World Cup, contentedly reaching for a ball of his own and saying "baw, baw"
90. open car windows on the drive home
91. an adoption story that brought me to tears--lovely reflection of Christ's love and tough reminder of the hurts and needs of the least of these

Saturday, July 16, 2011


84. good sleep
85. quiet morning walk
86. hard workout (Jillian Michael's level 3 is no joke!)
87. homemade pizza and homegrown salad with friends

Friday, July 15, 2011

views from the highway

79. successfully finding golden flaxseed for my mom (in the third store I looked!)
80. driving down the highway on a summer afternoon: deep, clear blue sky above; tall trees and clusters of deep green leaves converging ahead, then further ahead, the road always opening up as I go
81. afternoon at home, swimming, talking, eating (chicken fajitas--one of my favorites!)
82. seeing a play with friends and good discussion on the drive back
83. a gorgeous moon on a clear night, rural sky filled with stars

open windows

73. meeting a new roommate
74. enjoying a late night talk with a good friend before she moves
75. cleaning house after the movers leave--so satisfying!
76. open windows at night, crickets chirping
77. reading in the early morning with the windows open
78. raw milk with peaches and granola

Thursday, July 14, 2011

crisp morning

Gorgeous morning after a few hot days.
71. cool, crisp morning
72. long jog

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer storms

61. wispy clouds
62. long walks on (fairly) cool mornings
63. a quiet library
64. shelves of books, valued and shared
65. murmurs of others talking, asking questions, flipping pages
66. rain rattling the roof
67. thunder rolling as I read
68. reveling in the storm with a stranger (she hadn't been in Virginia long and was quite fascinated. :) She helped me appreciate it even more!)
69. putting aside my reading list for a few moments and reading more from One Thousand Gifts. Wow. I must come back to this frequently and remind myself of what she says
70. perky plants after a storm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot summer days

56. fresh peaches
57. back in Lynchburg safely
58. good conversation with Shannon over dinner tonight...she's always so encouraging and convicting at once
59. a new haircut
60. that the One who is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine knows my name.

Monday, July 11, 2011


42. several days without access to the internet :)
43. dinner with old family friends
44. playing cards with sisters (this was the longest time we've all spent together in several years)
45. riding the Griffon at Busch Gardens with Kaitlyn and Kory...while the fireworks went off. So lovely! Definitely my favorite roller coaster!
46. camping at the beach with family...reminds me of my childhood :)
47. sunsets over the bay
48. random pictures of sisters on the beach as the sun set
49. walks down the beach
50. staying dry (well, mostly!) during the deluge (4+ inches) in the middle of the night
51. a book lent to me that served as a much needed reminder of God's love and grace
52. bright sun reflecting on the waves for miles and miles (as we crossed the Bay Bridge Tunnel especially!)
53. randomly stopping by the drive-in theater on our way home
54. one-on-one time with Kaitlyn when I took her to work (when did she grow up? Such a great sense of humor!)
55. joyful woman at the local market who guessed at the weight of everything we bought, and then threw in a bunch of extra green beans because the ones we had "looked lonely"

This has been a summer of "firsts" as much as it has been a reminder of summers when I was younger: I'd never been to Busch Gardens, helped with a wedding reception, visited Baltimore, and it has been years since I'd seen the Miers, gone camping (especially at Kiptopeke!), or been to the drive-in theater. This has been by far the most "vacation-y" summer I've had. I think I could get used to a teacher's schedule. ;) Now, back to this pile of books... :)

Monday, July 4, 2011


36. the storm on the water last night (my *favorite* thing about being here!)
37. large gusts of wind on the water
38. big waves covered with water drops
39. strong windows that allow me to be a spectator
40. a flag flying in the wind, a reminder of freedom
41. a red, white, and blue flower display

Sunday, July 3, 2011


31. 4th of July at the river with family (a tradition of sorts, although I haven't been here in a couple of years)
32. bright sunshine on the water
33. silhouettes of sisters in the river
34. water fights (I photographed rather than participated) ;)
35. freshly juiced carrots and parsley

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Spacious Skies

29. Reflections of fireworks on the Rappahannock river
30. Breezes on the dock


25. summer break!
26. a list of things to read that I get to call "work" :)
27. warm summer days
28. sitting on the porch reading Wendell Berry

Friday, July 1, 2011


That will probably be a frequent post title. I love mornings. :)

21. My parents' neighbor's lake

22. The woods behind my parents' house (I've done more reading in these woods than anywhere else!) where I sat this morning reading Scripture, praying.

23. Speckled sunshine
24. Cool July mornings

Psalm 16:6
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Laura is leaving for India on the 6th, and tonight we had a going away party for her. She is such a precious friend, and I pray God's blessings on her in this new phase of life!

16. Laura's determined and joyful spirit, and most of all for her tight hugs :)
17. Her faithful friendship all these years, and particularly her honesty when I've needed someone to be frank with me
18. The fellowship and prayer time tonight, esp. with those I had not seen in some time. I can always be myself when I come back to FBF
19. Hummus and peppers
20. Driving down a back country road (it turned out to be the WRONG country road) with my sisters at 11:00 at night, looking for their friend's house. Lots of deer and lots of laughs (at ourselves).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: An Introduction

"In reading great literature,” C.S. Lewis writes at the end of An Experiment in Criticism, “I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action and in knowing, I transcend myself, and am never more myself than when I do." The truths Lewis glimpsed through literature became a crucial part of his identity even as they remained large and outside of himself. Such is the power of the written word as Lewis recognized it: it shapes who we are, and it can cultivate truth or lies in our lives. The books I’ve read have enabled me to “see what face things present to a mouse or a bee” as they’ve strengthened my vision of the world around me.

As an English major (and now an English teacher), I’ve often recognized the influence the written word has had in my life. Recently, however, I was given a precious gift, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, and I realized that I’ve only recognized part of the story. For if reading the words of others has challenged and blessed me, my response should be one of articulating my thankfulness to the Giver of all good gifts. I ought to respond to the beauty around me, of which I often become more fully aware through the language of others, through language of my own. Voskamp notes that in Luke 17 when the leper returns to give thanks to Christ for his healing, Christ responds by saying to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” She wonders, “Hadn’t Jesus already completely healed him?” As Voskamp sought the answer to her question, she learned that “saved thee” is “sozo in Greek. Many translations render sozo as being made ‘well’ or ‘whole,’ but its literal meaning, I read it--‘to save.’ Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full; He came to give us sozo. And when did the leper receive sozo—the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks” (38-39). For Voskamp, the power of eucharisteo (thanksgiving) inspired her to begin a written list of one thousand gifts.

I want to do the same. Too often, I think, I passively absorb the written word but avoid articulating truths in writing for myself. (This may seem silly coming from someone who has recently completed a Master’s thesis, but it is oh-too-true. I have recognized this in my teaching more than I’d like to admit, too. I am aware of much that is going on around me, but it’s so much easier to pretend I don’t notice if I'm unsure how to respond. I wonder if I overlook many of God’s gifts in the same way, in a prideful attempt to dodge the praise—the response--the recognition of such gifts demands.) I know that, on the one hand, I should spend far more time listening to the thoughts of others, especially the great authors, than articulating my own thoughts. But I’ve too often allowed passivity to keep me from deliberately giving thanks.

Naming God’s gifts and giving voice to my gratitude can shape my identity as much as do the words of others. For, as John Piper recognizes, “there are eyes in pencils and pens.” Voskamp writes, “Naming is Edenic. I name gifts and go back to the Garden and God in the beginning who first speaks a name and lets what is come into existence.... Adam completes creation with his Maker through the act of naming creatures, releasing the land from chaos, from the teeming, indefinable mass .... [N]aming offers the gift of recognition. When I name moments—string out laundry and name-pray, thank You, Lord, for bedsheets in billowing winds for fluff of sparrow landing on line, sun winter warm, and one last leaf still hanging in the orchard—I am Adam and I discover my meaning and God’s, and to name is to learn the language of Paradise. This naming work never ends for all the children of Adam. Naming to find an identity, our identity, God’s” (53). When I give voice to the gifts around me—speak them into recognition—perspective turns to gratitude.

The wholeness Christ promises, although not fully attainable in this life, is contingent in large part on my thankfulness. If I refuse to recognize the source of all the gifts I am given, or, even more fundamentally, if I refuse to recognize things great and small as gifts, I rob myself of the wholeness he promises. And I’ve done this. Time and again. Failed to recognize gifts or rejected them outright. And complained and become self-absorbed and depressed. I’ve sundered that which Christ came to make whole. Voskamp continues, “Thanksgiving—giving thanks in everything—is what prepares the way for salvation’s whole restoration. Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until that life realizes the need to give thanks” (40). Another dear author-friend, Madeleine L’Engle, articulates the same truth in her book Walking on Water: “Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite the chaos” (45). According to L’Engle, literature, like other forms of art, “points . . . to a wholeness, a wholeness of body, mind, and spirit, which we seldom glimpse, but which we are intended to know. It is no coincidence that the root word of whole, health, heal, holy is hale . . . If we are healed, we become whole” (60).

Voskamp describes the effects of her own list even in the beginning stages: “I can’t believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down—it is sort of like...unwrapping love” (45). She continues, “Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo [thanksgiving], like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of life—even the hard—is made up of minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole” (57). I too often stay in the abstract and deal in generalities, so I want to practice putting into words very specific things for which I am thankful as often as I can. And consciously look for the gifts in the seeds and crumbs, articulate them, and perhaps intersperse it all with some links and thoughts on other things I’ve been reading.

In the past couple of weeks, as I’ve had the idea for this blog in the back of my head, I’ve jotted a few things down to begin my list. It began on a napkin, at my aunt’s house, when I didn’t have any paper:

1. the perfect love that drives out fear
2. that I am held by the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27)
3. that he has given me a spirit of love, power, and self-discipline
4. that he dances over me when I am unaware
5. raindrops in the headlights late at night
6. a younger sister who had a superb idea for a father’s day gift—and early enough to allow for plenty of time to get the gift!
7. a great landlord who put a railing around our back porch that has kept the deer from eating my tomatoes and peppers (our landlord has been such a blessing after the foreclosure scare!)
8. fresh berries leftover after Heidi’s reception :)
9. a good trip to Baltimore, which included some excellent sessions at the SCL conference, lots of fish-eating, some lovely gardens, Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, the aquarium and museum, a re-awakened desire to travel, and lots of helpful info for the next school year
10. swimming in a saltwater pool with my sisters on a beautiful day
11. lovely conversation and breakfast this morning at Panera
12. encouraging and thought-provoking conversation about education with Tracie after church Sunday night (I didn’t know her much before!)
13. laughing with my roommates about ... all sorts of stupid stuff (or is it the simple things?)
14. a gift certificate to Givens books
15. new summer dresses (and great sales!)

Voskamp writes, “In naming that which is right before me, that which I’d otherwise miss, the invisible become visible ... God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in a life—even hurts in a life. GOD! How can I not name? Naming these moments may change the ugly names I call myself. I put a pen to a journal...” (54).

In A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle writes, “If I thought I had to say it better than anyone else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it in our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.”

I think it is the same with giving thanks. Millions of people have been thankful for the rain, for provision, for safety, for comfort. But I must express thanksgiving myself. I want to give voice to the gifts around me until it becomes a habit—and then keep on doing so. So here begins my record of thanks.