{30 days} of thankful : day 29

i am really thankful that today is friday. i am sleepy, tired of being at work, & in need of some respite. i'm not sure how to characterize this week: there have been both amazing parts and also parts to it which reminded me of my desperate need for God's grace. i am thankful that grace shows up in my life when i least deserve it + most need it.

i'm looking forward to reflecting on this experiment of giving thanks. although it's been a much longer journey {on here} than i'd anticipated, i am quite confident that the timing has been right + good. i don't struggle any less, but i notice myself more quickly moving through disappointments + struggles to hold onto grace + fix my eyes on the goodness around me.

one last thing today. i can hardly believe that i've neglected to share with you about this band, which i can't seem to get enough of. their music is beautiful + complex, their lyrics filled with themes of growing up, moving far away from family, figuring out who you are, + finding love. it's perfect for belting out in the car or listening to while cooking dinner at the end of a long day. i both cry + laugh along with their songs. seriously. do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes listening to the head + the heart when you get a chance. i am thankful for the comfort i find in their music.

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 28

i mentioned recently that there are some pretty exciting opportunities for growth + service + purpose that are in the process of coming to fruition. so this evening, i'd like to share about one of them.

tim + i are going to venezuela!

not for good, but for about 10 days, which feels like quite a long time i must say. the US passport agency has cashed our checks for expedited passports; our bosses have given us time off; and plane tickets will be bought any day now.

we'll be going with a very small group from our church, to serve alongside a pastor in valencia, venezuela, with a focus on the university there, which boasts a student enrollment of over 52,000. to be honest, we don't know a whole lot more than that.

except that we felt a call to GO.

i'll be honest: there isn't much in me that actually wants to go to venezuela. i know next to nothing about it, and i recently commented to tim about how south america as a whole just isn't on my radar. at all. but, sure enough, the Lord has been preparing our hearts for this for a while, just without letting on how things would play out. we have felt restless, desiring to grow and serve, recognizing a need to be UNCOMFORTABLE. our practical selves found many reasons to dismiss the idea of going on the mission trip to venezuela (oh, did i mention the trip is in about 5 weeks!?). you know, things like lack of time off from work, not speaking spanish, tim's fairly new job. and slowly, those things were chipped away by people who probably didn't even know the impact of their words.

a week and a half ago, i found myself crying my way through the sermon at church, tears streaming down my face. tim had left church early for a soccer game, so i was sitting by myself trying to hide my sniffles. but, i just couldn't get out of my mind the call to leave our comfort zones for something greater. my brain was in no way thinking venezuela, but at the same time the Lord was working on tim's heart to where he came home and said over dinner that he just knew he needed to GO. everything he said rang true with where my heart was, with what i've been thinking and unconsciously knowing for a while. i think i'm going, too. part of me doesn't actually want to, but it seems right.

our decision hinged on open doors: on getting time off (tim has been granted a few days of unpaid leave & i have enough pto accrued to use) and on quickly acquiring passports. fortunately i realized that i would, in fact, have to get a new one (fyi, turns out you have to buy a new one when you get married, even if your previous one is only 2 years old. cool, huh?)... and the estimated time for expedited passports is 2-3 weeks. just in time.

so, we shall be off! march 3-10. i'm excited to share more as we prepare and learn about what is in store, and as we GO and experience whatever good works the Lord has in store. we speak about 25 words combined in Spanish, so it will be far beyond our own talents and skills and strength to do anything of value in venezuela. which, i think, is exactly as it should be.

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 27

i decided yesterday that if i am ever an employer, i will give everyone 2 hours off on their birthday to sleep in, take a leisurely lunch, or go home early. wouldn't that be awesome?! everyone would love working for me. sadly, i did not get those 2 hours off yesterday, and lets agree: monday is a disappointing day for your birthday to land on. {let's hear it for 2016, when i'll once again have a weekend birthday!}

i'll quit my complaining, because despite working yesterday, it turned out to be a sweet + fun day. i walked in to an office with happy birthday balloons covering the floor, thanks to my kind co-workers. they also took me out to a quick lunch, which i appreciated, despite the awkwardness of interacting outside of work for the first time and hearing them reminisce about turning 40, 50, & 60. birthdays also make me thankful for facebook, and receiving wishes from people who span all 6 cities i've inhabited. i opened sweet cards and presents from my parents & in-laws. {thanks, mom, for scouring the closets to find a gift you forgot to ever give me 20 years ago... ha!}

and then it turns out that monday may not be such a poor day for a birthday - mondays are half-off bottles of wine at The Local !!! the fun table of 3 older ladies next to us effused birthday wishes {they were so friendly & personable, i seriously thought they might simultaneously hug me & try my food}. and then a friend we ran into there bought us a dessert: blackberry cobbler with house-made blueberry ice cream, oh yes! a perfectly sweet ending to the day / birthday weekend.

it occurred to me the other day that my next big birthday will be 40. whaaaa? that is crazy, and was nearly cause for an age-related freak out, which i am generally not prone to having. and then i thought back to turning 20, which feels like a lifetime ago, and reflected briefly over the last decade. a lot happened in these past 10 years: surviving and graduating college, becoming a vegetarian, hiking my way through the Yukon for a summer, moving to Branson and working at Doulos for 3 years, learning to snowboard, traveling to Europe, moving to Asheville, harvesting grapes at a vineyard for work, meeting my husband, watching one of my sisters get married, meeting my precious nephew. I moved again, starting & finishing graduate school, got married, moved to Virginia and started working, supported my husband in grad school, and carved out a life & community for us. in there were moments of joy & heartache, getting lost in new cities & then learning the shortcuts, and lots of figuring out who i am and growing more comfortable with the person i am & the hope of who i am becoming.

my mom shared that she thinks each year will just keep getting better for me. i think she's right.


{30 days} of thankful : day 26

i woke up today with a full heart. {my head & sinus cavities are also quite full, but don't worry. i'll spare you.} my 30th birthday celebration was yesterday. a number which, at times, still seems a bit crazy. we had a house full of friends + food + drink.  i love celebrations; i'm not sure if it's a love language, but it could be one of mine. i woke up this morning feeling God's love through the people that were around us yesterday, remembering a verse in isaiah: "because you are precious to me. you are honored, and I love you" {43:4}. there was a moment later in the day when i struggled to remember this. the trap of comparison seems to lay in wait to ensnare us, if not careful. so i will try to hold onto this love, from the people in my life, and ultimately from the Lord, who knows + loves us all fully.



{30 days} of thankful : day 25

i confess i was hoping that the final week of my 20's would be a little more exciting than coming down with one of the worst colds i've probably ever had. so far, that hasn't been the case, but at least there are still a few days left before the big 3.0. on the plus side, i'm feeling tons better (though not quite back to normal), thanks to my regime of sudafed, mucinex dm, emergen-c immune+, cold-eze lozenges, oranges, kleenex lotion tissues, vick's vaporub, and yogi throat soothing tea. i took one of the few naps of my life after work on wednesday, which i give responsibility to changing the course of my cold. before that, i just kept going downhill.

as much as i hate being sick, it makes me extra thankful for my health + overall wellness, and brings empathy for those who live with poor health or chronic illness. that would be a difficult life. i work hard to be healthy, but never want to take that for granted.

i also started working with my new supervisor yesterday, after 2 1/5 months without one, which is a major boost to my hopes of ever getting licensure & getting out of my stupid job.

anyway, here's to feeling better and moving forward!



{30 days} of thankful : days 23 + 24

i know, i know. 2 days in 1 post. i'm cheating, or how about just bending the rules. being flexible. {flexibility is a good thing, right? i'm glad we agree on that.}

in my defense, i've come down with an awful cold, i'm running on a combined total of about 9 hours of sleep in the last 3 nights combined, & i'm back at work struggling to bide my time in between meetings today. {new moms out there: you have my deepened respect for carrying on with the sleep deprivation. at least i only have to take care of myself.}

i'm going to be vague today, since the things for which i am hopeful + thankful are still in the process of being figured out and made into reality. there are a few really exciting opportunities in the near future for myself, as well as tim + i together, to be involved in service + outreach here in out community, and possibly beyond. a desire for such opportunities has been germinating in our hearts lately, as human pursuits of consumerism, politics, wealth, & ease continue to be exposed at the dead-end, unfulfilling pursuits that they are. we hope to see these opportunities sprout + grow, to experience + participate in pursuits with true + lasting value.

peace out.


{30 days} of thankful : day 22

as they tend to be for many, november & december were filled to the brim for us. i think we partook in 3 thanksgiving dinners before turkey/tofu day arrived. and that was just the start. lots of Christmas parties and dinners with friends. baking, shopping, serving. lots of good things, some days of feeling on the verge of crazy. and overall, a picture of the rich community we have been cultivating here, celebrating the people we have come to call friends.

i tend to be impatient with the ebb and flow of the calendar. early january is always hard: going back to work, the quietness of our house after being in a full house for Christmas, & the slowing of the social calendar. these all make these first few weeks of the year feel a little lonely and, dare i say, a tad boring. amidst all of the excitement of a new year, i can easily fall into moments of doubt about "what am i doing?" and "what am i doing here?" ... you get the picture. {as i think about it, i'm pretty sure God's grace provided me with a late-January birthday to anticipate during these slow weeks. thank you, Lord, for knowing me.}

all of this makes yesterday that much more manna to my soul. we spent the whole day with friends, bouncing from one home to the next. our family lunch gathering stretching into the afternoon up until a party to celebrate an upcoming birth, which was followed by shared football spectatorship until my exhaustion kicked in. as if to say, sweet child, why do you doubt? taste and see My blessings all around. to which i respond, thank you.

i am also thankful for the strong reminder & encouragement at church this morning that comfort, while not inherently bad, is not the pinnacle of our lives. my recognition of God's blessings is also a call to serve, to reach out, to bring comfort to others.

how i feel in a moment - whether discomfort in serving or doubt in the ebb and flow of the seasons - isn't necessarily the truth. yes, my emotions are valid, but as i saw yesterday, feeling unsure of relationships had no bearing on the fact that, yes, i do have good & growing community of friends. as one of my favorite alison krauss songs says, sometimes we must go by faith not what you feel.

- katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 21

short + sweet tonight:
today i'm thankful for ... a busy, productive day at work {even one in which i was named a superuser, meaning that between now and july i'll be trained to train my less-than-computer-savvy coworkers on how to use our agency's new electronic health record software/system. hopefully that will be good resume material someday}

    ... for some prospects on moving forward more quickly toward licensure + growth as a counselor

    ... for dominating the elliptical in my post-work workout.

    ... for a new episode of parks + recreation

staying warm,
  katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 20 !

today is a cold, rainy, + overall dreary day. the perfect day to stay inside: curled up on the couch + under a blanket {definitely NOT going to the gym}. it's raining so hard outside that if it were only 5-10 degrees colder, we'd be snowed in for DAYS!! {ah, wishful thinking!}

so, tonight {on the couch + under a blanket} we watched another episode of Human Planet. in a word: incredible. seriously awe-inspiring. thank you, BBC. granted, we tend to geek out about Planet Earth + the arrival of our monthly National Geographic issue in the mail. but this is seriously good. do yourself the favor of checking it out, if you have the opportunity.

One of the many things I love about this program is the chance to watch people whose lives are undistractedly focused on survival, on the here + now. no time to worry about the future: today's concerns are enough. and certainly no time to worry about new clothes or facebook or what my life will be in a year + a half, and enough already with politics and the dow jones. 

the summer after i graduated college, i spent 45 days sleeping in a tent in the wilds of NW Canada. it was surely one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and as i think back on it, i can't help but almost miss the undivided focus on each day's tasks: cooking + eating, not losing anything, paddling x miles to point b, packing + unpacking, sleep. it took a while to get used to the pace + to just be, but by the end it was scary to face the reality of going back to the real world.

i'm not sure how to recreate that focus, that here/now-ness that i experienced and that i witness on Human Planet, in the lives of people living in the remote corners and peaks and jungles of the earth. but i am convinced that there is LIFE in that perspective + way of life. and for a glimpse + reminder of that tonight, i am thankful.

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 19

i think i'm starting to see gratitude as a way of looking at the world creep into my way of thinking + being. not always for sure, but it's showing up in small ways, in the little things.

here are a few things i'm thankful for today:

    my riff on THIS soup recipe (from this beautiful book) on a day that has been nothing if not a day for eating soup {our precipitation included rain, sleet, slush, + snow}.

    THIS banana bread, which is warm and filling our home up with it's smells {but won't be eaten until tomorrow, when we can share it with friends}

   THIS book, which is admittedly rough around the edges, but so authentic and, hmm, absorbing, engaging, delicious.

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 18

today i'm thankful for dusk. yes, dusk. maybe it's that i'm leaving work and arriving home at that time, or that minute by minute each day is getting a teensy bit longer. for some reason this week, the gentle quieting of the onset of evening has been a balm to my spirit.

one of the downsides to our home is that it takes a bit longer to get anywhere. an extra 15 minutes isn't much in the scheme of things, but in a city like charlottesville, it often more than doubles the drive. but, it is a glorious drive home. past grazing cows and horses, a golf course and ponds, past sweeping oaks and large old homes, up and down hills and right into the sunset. yesterday, the train was speeding past our house just as i was curving up the driveway, backdropped by glowing orange skies. today after work, i took my tea and just sat, soaking in the early light of the moon, the peach and purple-ish skies. at the end of a long week, it felt refreshing.

i am thankful.

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 17

when i started this whole {30 days}, my mom sent me a chapter from a book she is reading on thankfulness. although i struggle to fullly grasp the significance of being thankful, this chapter brought depth and a big-picture context to this practice. it also offered insight into why gratitude isn't often easy & why it certainly isn't often my default-mode of responding to things.

coming back to work after the holidays has been really difficult {surprise, surprise}. i had a brief taste of purpose + busyness + actually doing therapy before Christmas... and it was good. and now, just like that, things are right back to boring same old, same old. i can feel this dragging me down, and am realizing as i write, that this is why i started {30} days to begin with. to choose a different path for my heart, to resist getting dragged down.

- - -
so, i'd like to share some excerpts that stand out to me from brian mclaren's naked spirituality, from a chapter entitled "Thanks: Dayenu - Enough and More, and More"

"Ingratitide makes us foolishly forget the fragility of our skin and proudly deny our dependency and interconnectedness. If true spirituality and authentic religion are about vital interconnectedness, you can see how essential the practice of gratitude must be. ...

"When we awaken to the addictive slavery of our contemporary never-enough system, we too want to go on a journey of liberation, and we too want to develop a humility of chracter enriched by daily dependence and daily gratitude, true thankfulness for daily bread. ...

"Like the sparrows flying overhead or the day lilies blooming beside the roadway, we live within creaturely limits, and we depend for our survival on resources outside of ourselves. the awareness of our creaturely limitations, dependence, and vulnerability doesn't make us less happy, Jesus suggests; it actually increases our happiness. It liberates us from the addictive drives of the never-enough system: more food, more drink, more clothes - always more, more, more. it liberates us to see ourselves as God's beloved creatures within God's creation instead of as self-made consumers in a self-made economic system.

"If we seek for other words to stand alongside the simple word thanks in expressing gratitude, i think one would be again, because one of the greatest obstacles to gratitude is the sheer bounty of God's generosity. ... So when I notice that I've been taking these gifts for granted... I rededicate myself to the practice of gratitude: "Again, God, again you have blessed me. Again, I savor this gift. Again I appreciate. Again I say thanks. Again. Again."

- - -
oh. again, today, i say thanks for a home, a paying job, a car, and warm clothes on this cold January day. I say thanks for a husband and church and family and friends. for oxygen, mountains, a full stomach, quenched thirst. for the memory of days of fulfilling work, and the hope of that to come.

katie anne

Source: Brian McLaren (2011). Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words. pages 57-62.


{30 days} of thankful : day 16

as my extended vacation draws to a close {i've worked all of 1 day in the past 11 days!}, i find myself thankful for many, many things over these past several days.

i am thankful for ... a brief 20 minutes of snow this afternoon, while soup simmered on the stovetop.

    ... that today's date is 1.2.12

    ... for today, unlike yesterday, not finding a mouse nest built on top of hanging clothes in the closet.

    ... for our quiet celebration at home on new year's eve {and for the delicious pan seared scallops & balsamic roasted root vegetable dinner we savored!}

    ... for last night's sunset, which lit up the glowing pink bottoms of puffy rows of clouds, which reminded me of God's comfort and presence.

    ... and for the outtakes from our family photo over Christmas!

katie anne


{30 days} of thankful : day 15

hello, twenty twelve. you just roll off my tongue. it's nice to be here.

as i sit down to type, i confess i don't have any great retrospective or forward-looking thoughts, as we say goodbye to 2011 and begin the new year. i'm excited for the year ahead - my thirtieth. i love getting my new planner and flipping through the pages of weeks, wondering how they will be filled up with adventures and grocery shopping, parties and dentist appointments. 

and at the same time, a part of me is apprehensive about what the year will hold. so much of this past year was filled with circumstantial uncertainties, and although we now have a very settled life with 2 full time jobs and a lovely {rental} home... i suppose the "normalcy" of our lives now doesn't yet feel like our normal. it's hard to even imagine a year without moving or beginning & ending school semesters or changing job situations. perhaps this year {for now, at least. who knows what's in store!} is about embracing and enjoying the now, instead of looking ahead to events and changes. maybe it's about learning to live and explore the life we have here, without being "new" or "in transition." 

a few years ago, i heard a really neat sermon at the turn of the year. the speaker, who was a guest pastor at my church, spoke on remembering as a crucial element of knowing & trusting God. i assert that remembering is a crucial aspect of being human. he spoke from isaiah 63:7-14, which recounts the faithful interventions of God for His people, even in the midst of their shortcomings and ridiculousness. 

                   "i will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD,  
                    because of all that the LORD has done for us, 
                    and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them 
                    according to his mercy, 
                    according to the abundance of his steadfast love." {isaiah 63:7}

the hebrew word for "steadfast love" is hessid, which translates as "God's loyalty and love for His chosen people." and it is abundant

thankfulness, gratitude. these words seem to fall short right now. in the midst of looking back on the year behind and dealing with anticipation about the unknowns of the year ahead, God's loyal, steadfast love is abundant + great + full of mercy. i experienced this in 2011 as peace throughout months of a totally unknown & unplanned future. this remembering is what i carry with me as i embark into 2012. this hessid is what i know + try to hold onto.

and for this i am truly thankful today.

katie anne