"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And Away We Go...

The time has come to tell you about a great blessing we have been afforded. A mere 33 hours from now, we will depart for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on a dream family vacation.

It seems silly that this is a big deal to us; I know wealthy people do this all the time.

BUT...this trip was given to us. Absolutely. One hundred percent. From the airfare to the five-star resort accommodations to the spending money, this vacation is a blessing/bonus/gift from my bosses to our family. We have been completely overwhelmed. And let me tell you -- it has made the challenges and the increased responsibilities of the last year worth it. :-)

This is where we will be staying. We will be staying in the Grand Mayan Suite. Can you imagine? We've known for four months, and yet we are still overwhelmed, nervous, scared, excited, thrilled, freaked out, etc., etc., etc.

My mom will be joining us there on Tuesday, which will also add to the fun, though we will miss my dad greatly.

We are so, so grateful for my bosses' generosity to us, and we are thankful to God for providing us with a memorable life experience for our little girl. Thank you, Jesus!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

The "S" Word: A Ryley Story

When I was in third grade, I attended an especially secular public school. One day, my teacher, Mr. Erickson, was talking about his morning routine. He said that there was a specific "S" word that he would often say when he got up in the mornings, and he asked us to guess what it was.

"Sunshine!" I yelled out, butterflies of innocence and love fairly dancing around my blonde pigtails.

"No...not sunshine," he answered. I wonder if he had a small moment of conscience right then. Mmmm, probably not, because he went on to tell us the correct answer to his little query. "When I get up in the mornings, I usually say, "Oh, s---!"

The "S" word. The very one.

My eyes were wide in horror and shock.

And...my parents put me in Christian school the very next year.


Fast forward 20-some years to Ryley and me cleaning her room this weekend.

Ryley was telling me how her best friend often talks about how this is sexy, and that is sexy, etc., etc.

"Ryley, I would like for you to not talk about being sexy," I said. "She might say that, and that is between her and her mom, but I don't want you to use that word, OK?"

Ryley readily agreed. "OK, I will just call that the 'S' word," she answered.

I couldn't help but smile. "That's a good idea."

"Mom? There is another 'S' word. Did you know that?" Ryley asked.

"Yes, I do know that. Why? Do you know what it is?"

Ryley looked guilty, and I wondered where on earth she would have heard the real "S" word. That's not really the kind of vocabulary we expose her to, unless she would have heard it at school.

She nodded that she did know what it was.

"Do you want to whisper it to me?" I asked, wanting to make sure she and I were on the same page.

She did. So she crossed over and whispered in my ear...


"Yes," I agreed, trying not to laugh. "That's a naughty word, and we don't ever say that, do we?"

"No," she answered, solemnly.


And now for a segment we will call "Ryley Narrates Her Life."

She had accidentally burned her arm on the iron yesterday while trying to reach past it to point out something on our wall map. In actuality, she is fine. We also think she is hilarious. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our Redeemer Lives!

In the last few weeks, God has really laid this word on my heart: redemption.

I love that word. It means that what went wrong will be made right...that there is hope that God is able to do big things, even when we're struggling against the toughest of currents.

It started last week when we were watching LOST. There was something so beautiful about watching the redemption of one of TV's most twisted villains. He was forgiven and adopted...by the very people whose leader he killed. I loved that. You can laugh at me. I will understand. It doesn't change the fact that LOST gave me goosebumps. :-)

But then, God started moving on my heart about my brother Justin and sister-in-law Aly. My baby nephew Jonathan was stillborn a year and a half ago, and they have been tirelessly struggling with infertility ever since. It has been rough on them, to say the least. A rollercoaster ride of emotions and doubts and faith and unanswered questions. As they started this latest procedure (frozen embryo transfer) within the last few weeks, I just started praying for redemption...that God would make it right. We know He works all things together for their good, but we want more than that for them...we want God to restore and make it better than it was before. Justin and Aly need redemption for what they've lost.

Yesterday we received the good report....Not only was the embryo transfer successful (pregnancy!!!), but Aly's hormone levels are so high that they seem to indicate twins. We won't know for sure for another couple of weeks, but wouldn't it be just like God to do that?? To be clear, we are thankful with just one. :-) But the strong, healthy numbers and positive outcome alone seem to be enough redemption already!!!

So this morning, on my way to work, I was praising and thanking God for the miracle of Aly's pregnancy. Absentmindedly, I began to sing, "'Cause I know my Redeemer lives...."

Suddenly, it all became very clear.

Five years ago, when I had my first miscarriage, "Redeemer" by Nicole C. Mullen was the song that got me through it. At the time, I didn't really understand what redemption had to do with my situation, and honestly, I didn't care. But I liked these lines of the song:

"Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
And who told the ocean, 'You can only come this far'?
And who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?"

These words were life-giving to me....They promised me that God is bigger than my situation...that He is the Creator and that the world is so big, and I am so small. He rules the tides. He rules the orbits. He easily rules my body and has a plan for me.

Five years later, I finally get the rest of the song. I get it. He gave me that song then, knowing that I wouldn't really connect with it until today. He gave it to me then, knowing the future...that the five-plus years of waiting for our miracle and mourning with Justin and Aly for their loss would make the message of the song real today.

You can't have redemption without a situation to redeem...Right?

So in the midst of our gladness for Aly and Justin, Ryan's and my hope is renewed as well! This is a season of redemption for our family.

He turns our mourning into dancing. Our Redeemer lives! He lives!

Monday, March 15, 2010


I love my husband. I really, really do.

We discovered our old love letters this weekend...the ones I wrote him from Germany, as well as the beautiful poetry he wrote me when we were engaged. In those precious writings, we glimpsed our old selves...our hopeful, dream-filled 20-year-old selves. One letter proposes the grand idea of getting ourselves a nice little flat above an ice cream parlor in Germany, and we would teach English there. Yes, my 20-year-old self used the word "flat." I kind of miss her.

What happened to those dreams? Sure, it was much more "convenient" to stay in the states...It turned out to be just as much "us" to pack up a U-Haul and move to Montana. We don't regret our decisions. In fact, we love the life we've built together. It's very happy. And it's not too late to follow the German dream, I suppose. If we still want it, that is. Just musings....

In the past few days, through the miracle of Facebook, I have been in touch with my first piano teacher, Genie Harris. It has been wonderful reconnecting with her. I took lessons from Genie for four years before moving on to take lessons from Mrs. Orrick for another five years. Where Genie taught me piano basics, chords, and worship accompaniment, Mrs. Orrick helped me perfect my "performance side" through challenging classical pieces. I love them both.

Genie wrote me and told me that Mrs. Orrick's husband had passed away.

So when Ryan got home tonight, I said, "Hey, you know how I had two piano teachers? Well, my second piano teacher's husband died."

Ryan's response: "Oh no! Not Van Orrick! That's so sad."

My love for him tripled right then. He knew, off-hand, the name of my piano teacher's husband.

"How did you know his name?" I asked, in disbelief.

"We've been married a long time," he smiled.

German flat or English cottage or Denver suburban house aside, I live with the love of my life. We are together.

And he is my best friend, for life. :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

My "hot buttered rum" lip gloss. So tasty.

My Keurig coffee maker.

My IPhone music playlist cleverly titled "Joy's Favorites" - my soundtrack for this season of my life.

Editing magazine articles at Panera during my lunch hour.

Our puppy Juliet. (I know. Shocking.)

A middle-of-the-day phone call to my very best friend Ryan. :-)

The lilting rhythm of Ryley's voice as she learns the 23rd Psalm. That scripture has never sounded so beautiful.

This moment in time:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Letter to a Chronic Whiner

To whom it may concern:

You think the world revolves around you. We all have crap going on in our lives; we all have to stay up late sometimes; we all have seasons of hardship. We all feel sick from time to time. What I need you to do is to stop talking about it. I'm unfriending you from Facebook because I'm tired of realizing all of your status updates are secret messages to me, planting a seed so that you can have a built-up complaint to fall back on later. I need you to toughen up. I need you to be dependable. I need you to endure.

I wonder how annoying I was to Doris when I worked at ORU as a 22-year-old. I should get in touch with her and apologize for wasting her valuable time, talking her patient ear off with stories of people she didn't care about.

I used to have a theory that you should never admit to feeling "good," because then there's no chance you can build up an eventual excuse to leave early from work. So when did I grow up and mature? When did I stop the incessant complaining about not feeling well? When did I stop being so dang lazy? I am so sick of the whining. Do I feel awesome all the time? No. But you run the race you are given. You endure.

We leave for Mexico in 25 days. The competitive spirit in me wants to earn this trip again in the next three weeks, even though it was a blessing earned and rewarded months ago.

I want to exercise, with the goal of that swimming suit. I want to keep the house clean and the laundry done, with the goal of an easy packing experience. I want to get all 25 magazine articles edited, with the goal of nobody needing to contact me. I want to kick butt at work in every way, just because. :-)

It's a mad dash. I'm kicking it into high gear. This is my personal Olympic race, and I am Lindsay Vonn. I am Evan Lysacek. I am...Joy.

Is that melodramatic enough??

Ok. Lunch is over. Back to work. :-)

With ever so much sincerity and hopefulness for a complaint-free environment,


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone