1000 gifts

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”
– Irving Berlin

1000 Gifts: The Instagram Way

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

Just a quick gift collection…thanks to my favorite photography apps, FotoRus, Over, and Instagram…














Poolside Confessions…thankful for sunshine, solitude, and Christmas in the air…

Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in Blue Couch Confessions, One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

Had a little time to kill by the pool this afternoon while Ben gave his presentation, so among finishing a new book (Illusion by Frank Peretti), answering email, enjoying some solitude, and grading a few speeches, I thought I would use up a few words on a video post about my 1000 gifts…






One Thousand Gifts…giving thanks in hardship and blessing….

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

I told Ben the other day that I was so thankful that we were in our new house. This couldn’t me more true. It feels good and right to be here. But the thought shot through my mind, “What if God took it all away? Would I still give thanks?” Could I agree with Paul when he says in Philippians, “I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little”?

At this moment, it is easy to say “yes”, but I pray that I would take that same attitude…being content in all situations. Giving thanks in hardship and blessing. Always looking for the gifts.

But for now, I’m giving thanks for:

#571: A healthy husband after two weeks of sickness

#572: Kids adjusting (successfully) to school

#573: Finding a running buddy

#574: Getting into the groove of teaching again

#575: Neighborhood playdates

#576: Giving the kids a chance to experience art on a grand scale (thanks ArtPrize!)

#577: Challenging sermons

#578: My Hello Mornings accountability group – they encourage me every day!

#579: Seeing my kids be brave enough to deliver their “neighborhood newspaper” to all the neighbors

#580: True community

#581: Listening for the transformative work of the Holy Spirit

#582: Cider and donuts

#583: Feel of warm wooden floors under my feet

#584: My cordless floor vacuum…essential for the aforementioned wood floors

#585: Kickball in the back yard

#586: Madi giving me writing assignments for her “Madi-zine”

#587: Parker making friends at school

#588: One-on-one time with Fiona

#589: Technology, so I can stay in touch with my family

#590: Grace…when I don’t live my day gracefully

So much to be thankful for…

1000 Gifts: Catching up…

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 2 comments

It has been a while since my last 1000 gifts post. This is not because I haven’t been given many gifts, but I haven’t taken the opportunity to verbalize them. But as I sat down to scribble down a few things, I couldn’t write them fast enough. So many things to be thankful for, so many reminders of God’s provision, and so many reasons to smile.


#554: Feeling settled in our new house…Madi too…

#555: The grass finally starting to fill in around the weeds

#556: Cousin visits

#557: Meeting new neighbors

#558: Our new kitchen table finally arriving

#559: Taking the time to give my time away

#560: Avoiding major injury after Parker fell off his bike

#561: The kids going tubing for the first time…even Fiona…

#562: Giggling kids running all over the house

#563: Late night talks about the Holy Spirit

#564: Sleepovers with old friends

#565: Fiona sleeping through the night…three times this week

#566: The familiar feeling of being back in the school building

#567: Losing my license…but the fee only being $9

#568: Having room for kids to help me in the kitchen

#569: Spontaneous pajama parties with the kiddos

Life is good, right?

One Thousand Gifts…summer adventures…

Posted by on Jul 21, 2012 in memories, One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

We jammed the last few weeks with more vacation, outings, and adventures than I ever thought possible. Days of thrills followed by days of cranky recovery, and honestly, I don’t quite feel back to normal after four back-to-back weekends of being on the go. At the same time, I feel incredibly blessed for the time that we were able to spend with family, friends, and with our little nuclear family. Such a gift…here are a few more (in no particular order).


#535: “Pandie”

#536: Landscaping

#537: First 5K of the year

#538: Meijer Gardens in the summer

 #539: Daisies

#540: The Cherry Festival Parade (as the firetrucks went by…)

#541: Ready for a boat ride…

#542: Buddies

#543: St. Joseph Carousel Rides

#544: Swimming in the lake

#545: Carousel Lions

#546: Holding hands at Michigan Adventure

#547: Visiting a new library (to us)…why have we never gone to the Main Grand Rapids library before?

 #548: My Grandma

#549: Time with Grampy

#550: My Grandpa

#551: Hats

#552: Grumpy faces that still make me smile (most of the time)

One Thousand Gifts…a weekend away…

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 in memories, One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

We had been planning on this weekend in Saugatuck for months, but it still snuck up on us between house tasks, work, and…everything else. So when last Friday rolled around, we threw some clothes, food, and beach toys in the car and drove the short 45 minute jaunt to the little town on the lakeshore, the tourist town that tries extra hard to not be “touristy”.

I didn’t think much about my expectations for the weekend, but as soon as we pulled up to our cabin, I felt myself slide into a slower, less stressful place, and ready to focus on just being together as a family. We had a few tough “moments” with the kids, but for the most part, it was a gift of a weekend…low key, relaxing, perfect weather, amazing digs, reconnection time for Ben and I…and well, I just feel so thankful for…

#517: no schedule

#518: crazy pool time

#519: burned pancakes (for a good dose of humility)

#520: no Wi-Fi

#521: Oval Beach…quiet, peaceful, and beautiful

#522: afternoon strolls…and poses…

#523: window shopping

#524: rock collections

#525: ice cream smiles

#526: rocking and talking, bug-free on the screened porch

#527: pics with my girls

#528: twilight fishing

#529: pics of my boys

#530: forgetting about my to-do list

#531: exploring nature

#532: leaving feeling refreshed

#533: and I can’t forget…my new baby niece! Yippee!

One Thousand Gifts…summertime, Father’s Day, and a blue leather couch…

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 2 comments

It has been a few frantic weeks since I circled back to my gift list, full of end-of-school activities and other “must-dos” on my list. But that seems backwards somehow…shouldn’t the gratitude come first rather than weeks later?

Either way…here are a few recent gifts…

#503: The Love Like Him study I have been participating in…it has been really cool to study a short passage for an entire week…makes the application that much more sweet…

#504: Buying hand-painted cards at the East Grand Rapids Art Fair

#505: Finding the courage to buy a light blue leather couch for our new house


#506: Lazy dinners on the deck at Lake Bostwick Inn with friends

#507: My mom’s visit…lots of hugs, shopping, and late-night chats

#508: Pop Chips…my new found snack

#509: Watching my kids play Pick-Up Sticks…the hardwood, old-fashioned kind

#510: Seeing my Dad on Father’s Day

#511: Sending Ben & Parker off on a “boys only” camping weekend, complete with dune buggy rides, a driftwood search, and thunderstorms

#512: Sleeping in “of sorts” now that school is out for the summer

#513: Eating a scrumptious shrimp salad at the Pump House Grill in St. Joseph, MI…YUM!

#514: Looking forward to meeting my newest niece…any day now!

#515: Watching Parker perform in his Civic Theatre Kids Kamp production



One thousand gifts…on Strawberry Shortcake birthdays…

Posted by on May 22, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

It was one of those weeks where I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry. There were some tough moments, born out of strong wills, unforeseen circumstances, and sheer exhaustion, but there were also moments of sunshine, giggles, and plenty of chocolate covered strawberry marshmallows. I spent hours digging through bins of too-small clothes, contemplating the years we are leaving behind us, but also spent precious minutes walking through our house-in-progress, watching lumber and drywall tape turn into the spaces we will be doing life in a few short months. We talked over the highway noise and laughed at sweaty kids jumping on trampolines and running through sprinklers, but also felt the hole of missing family members.

It was one week out of many, but it so clearly grabs me as a microcosm of what life is all about, what Solomon so clearly explained by saying, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I suppose he didn’t say that all of it would take place in the stretch of a single week, but the Truth remains. Joy…and weeping. Pain…and healing. Peace…and turmoil. And through it all, I felt the hand of the Spirit on my shoulder, pointing me towards joy, reminding me to love extravagantly, showing me gifts around every corner.

And so, a few joyful gifts from Fiona’s third birthday…

#492: Marshmallows

 #493: Trampolines

 #494: Strawberry Shortcake (courtesy of big sis)

#495: Ruffles

#496: Bathing Suits

#497: Treats

#498: Velvet Dresses

#499: Cupcakes

#500: Halfway to 1000 Gifts…

#501: Hugs

#502: Princesses

Happy Birthday my Fi-Girl…

One Thousand Gifts…on Mother’s Day…

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in motherhood, One Thousand Gifts | 1 comment

By the time we got the kids to bed last night, I was feeling more than a little grumpy. From the gigantic temper tantrum Parker threw because we asked him to wear a polo shirt to church to the sullen attitude Madi pulled for a good chunk of the afternoon, it wasn’t as peaceful a day as I had hoped.

But as I headed out for an evening run, I thought about the little moments that I had with each of the kids throughout the day, and it reminded me (yet again) how blessed I was to have three healthy, beautiful, and strong-willed children. It is so easy to get caught up in the frustrating parts of motherhood and forget the wonderful, amazing parts.

So, today…three gifts…three moments…that I will stick in my mind as I remember Mother’s Day this year…

#488: We went to Twisted Rooster for lunch, where all three kids actually ate their food with gusto. (This is a bona fide miracle, folks.) But the really interesting part was that we happened to be sitting by a television that was tuned to a soccer match. Parker noticed it first, saying “Why is there soccer on the tv?”, and that led to us watching part of the game unfold. Madi and Parker were especially transfixed, asking question after question about what was happening on the screen. We saw a couple goals being scored, a player get red carded, a fight (that was an interesting discussion), and the crazy conclusion to the game with all the fans rushing the field. It was one of the first times that Parker has shown any interest in watching a game on television, and he even asked if we could watch more at home. Makes a mama proud…

#489: As I mentioned, Madi was down in the dumps all afternoon, but she finally snapped out of it when I redeemed one of her “Mother’s Day coupons” for a pedicure/manicure. We hunkered down on the fluffy green rug in the bathroom, and she carefully applied sheer blue nail polish to my toes and nails, and then I painted her toenails too. I was struck (once again) how grown up she is getting, talking about nothing and everything, and how determined I am to make sure we stay connected as she keeps getting older, even if it means I get my toenails painted every color of the rainbow.

#490: I have this horrible habit of hunkering down with Fiona in her toddler bed before she falls asleep. I fold myself into strange pretzel-like shapes and try to cover myself with an edge of her purple duvet. Then she rolls over and scootches down and around until she gets into the perfect position for sleeping. I take her little hand in mine, and she tucks her head under my chin to go to sleep. Last night, every time I started to leave, she clotheslined her arm across my neck, preventing me from leaving. “Don’t leave!” she pleaded each time, and I couldn’t help but stay…and stay…and stay. Finally, I was able to sneak out after two hugs and two kisses. It’s ridiculous, but one of these days, it will be over…and she won’t be that little or that snuggly anymore. So for now, it’s what we do.

That’s what I will remember…soccer games, blue toenails, and purple duvets…another Mother’s Day in the books…

One Thousand Gifts…on teachers…

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I posted a piece about my piano teacher over at Mom Colored Glasses, and it got me thinking. There have been so many teachers that have impacted my life, and thought it would be the perfect addition to my gift list to think about just a few of them…

#465: My Mom, who taught me everything from tying my shoes to creating gift baskets to being a woman and a mom

#466: My Dad, who took on the unfortunate task of teaching me how to drive…the most memorable stretch of road being the harrowing road trip where I drove white-knuckled through Cleveland as a new driver…I’m surprised my Dad didn’t have a heart attack on the spot

#467: Mrs. Bundy, my 2nd grade teacher, who took me under her wing as a scared little kid at a new school and made me feel special

#468: Mrs. Anderson, who introduced me to singing with the M & Ms kids choir at church…I will always remember practicing articulation and rhythm with Psalm 1

#469: My Mom again, who taught me how to type like no one’s business

#470: My best childhood friend, Tiffany, who taught me what being a loyal friend looks like

#471: Mr. Mantz, who taught me that being a teacher sometimes means taking a break from math and talking about life

#472: Mrs. Magin, who taught me what patience looks like…and how to play a snare drum

#473: My first boss, Cathy, who taught me how to scoop custard, run a cash register, and decorate ice cream cakes

#474: Professor Johnson, my Freshman Lit prof, who spent a lot of time talking about song lyrics and writing about memories. It’s one of the few freshman classes that I remember…

#475: Professor Cuffman, who taught me how to love Communication Theory and who was a mentor in the truest sense of the word…listening, guiding, and looking out for me…

#476: Marcia, the trainer for my very first job, who taught me how to run debits and credits and how to balance a teller drawer

#477: Jennifer, my first on-the-job trainer, who taught me how to buck up and move on after our bank branch was robbed

#478: Pam, who taught me how to love Corporate Training, and who was also a mentor in the truest sense of the word…telling me what I needed to hear, giving me amazing opportunities, and looking out for me…

#479: Professor Bechlur, who introduced me to Organizational Communication, which I now love, and gave me the foundation for a class I would ultimately teach five years later

#480: My mother-in-law, who patiently taught me how to plant flowers and gardens even though I am horrible at it

#481: My students, who taught me how to be a better teacher, to engage with them personally instead of looking at them en masse, and how it wasn’t the end of the world if we threw my lesson plans out of the window sometimes

#482: The maternity nurses when we had our kids, who (mercifully) taught me it was okay to send them to the nursery for a couple of hours while I slept

#483: Ben, who taught me how to be strong, assertive, and proud of who I am…and he is desperately trying to teach me that I don’t have to do it all myself…

#484: Jeff Manion, who teaches me every week to take the spiritual blinders off my eyes and be open to what God has to say to my heart – I can truly say that I can see the work of the Holy Spirit…through him

#485: Trish, who pushed me all this year to be a better leader to my Bible study group and challenged me to dig deeper into the Word

#486: Jesus, who I reacquainted myself with this year through the book of Luke, taught me through His life work how to be the person He wants me to be and how I can’t squander my opportunities to use the gifts He has given me

Wow…I think I could keep going all night, going back over the many, many teachers that have been a part of my life. I am truly thankful for each one of them, listed on the screen or in my heart, and hope that I am able to communicate my thankfulness in some small way someday…

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