Sunday, September 30, 2007

Autumn Wonder

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3

I guess I got a little off the beaten track:)

Thought bubble... "WHY have I never gone for a run here?!?!?" Tomorrow is the day.

Leaves crunching underfoot. Warm breeze sweeping through my hair. Sunshine. Silence. Golden beauty. "If only every day could be this perfect," I thought. "Well, maybe I don't wish for that, since it certainly would take away from the awe of such a day when it comes."

On the downside, the Vikings lost AGAIN and it's looking like another disappointing season. Oh well, I will still love my Vikes. Regardless of what happens in the NFL world, this is without question my favorite time of year. It is easy to love God on days like today... days when He is full of romance and all I need to do is show up. Days when He whispers to me and points out yet again my incredible smallness and His incomparable beauty. There can be little doubt that as much as possible in the coming week I will be raking up piles of leaves for the sole purpose of jumping through them. Childish, perhaps, but I am more than okay with that! No matter how long it has been since you have danced through piles of autumn leaves, this year is the perfect time to re-discover the joy of such a thing. Join me!! If the idea seems scary, find someone to push you in... that's what I would do!!

Truly all creation sings in praise of God.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Chicago Marathon Preview

Here are two links of Chicago marathon videos. The first one is done by World Vision and the second is a general one that shows the course through Chicago. I'M SOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!! I'm even dreaming marathon these days:). With only 9 days to go until October 7th, I've been reflective about how God has used this season of training in my life. I have thought often of Hebrews 12:1...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

Back in early April when our training was beginning to extend far beyond my normal exertion level, I remember finishing a run and being completely discouraged. It was hot, I felt like I was slowing Sarah down, and my feet were covered with painful blisters. I wanted to quit at that point, but I remember God saying... "I want you to endure." That's all I needed to hear. Training for this thing has taught me discipline, which is extending to other areas of life where I have needed to be more disciplined. Running gives me extended periods of quiet, and is an awesome time to just BE with God and clear my head. He often paints beautiful sunrises for me to gaze upon, or sends a deer bounding across the road just when I need some encouragement. I have gotten to know my body... when to push, when to rest, what I should and shouldn't eat, etc. Pushing towards a goal that seemed impossible and now feeling like it is most definitely possible has encouraged me more than I can say. It has made me stop still more than once in total amazement at these bodies that God has so masterfuly woven together.

Hopefully this marathon won't be the first and last!! Next year I'm hoping to run 2 half marathons and 2 or 3 full marathons, with a long-term goal to qualify for Boston eventually. For this I have a long way to go:). 3 hours and 40 minutes is the required time, and for next Sunday's marathon my goal is 4 hours and 30 minutes (and if I don't get it I won't be surprised). So I need to speed up... cut my time from 10 minute miles to 7.7 minute miles.

A friend once said to me that just because a person runs, that doesn't make him/her a runner. I laughed at this, but often find myself thinking about it. I wonder if it can also be applied to us and to God, and if it can, then how? One of the many things I think about during the miles and miles...

There are a few more days to donate to Team World Vision! I am running for a 5-year-old Ethiopean boy name Fuad. He's adorable! Again the website is

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This may disturb you...

Here's a link to the promised video:)!!! I LOVE showing this to people, haha. Reactions are priceless.

My family is totally great. Since I didn't get a birthday celebration this year, tonight we celebrated my half birthday in conjunction with my dad's birthday:). We fondued... our family favorite. My parents gave me Rosetta Stone's Portuguese language program. I've been hoping and hoping to get that and am excited to start!

Here is a photo from Nina's birthday party last week. My cousin Charlotte came as a special surprise. She is a freshman in college this year, going into nursing at NDSU!!! I'm so proud:).


Without question, the biggest news from the past week is that I lost my black toenail. The whole thing just came right off one afternoon leaving an ugly, and now undisguisable, toe with no nail:). We captured the event on video so it just might be a youtube hit in the near future. You never know!

Second to that, I suppose, is the job! I was hired at Meritcare's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At the interview I knew that I would love the position, and was even more convinced after touring the unit and meeting some of the staff. The reason NICU seemed like the best option is because it's a wonderful combination of challenging nursing which will really stretch me while at the same time being constantly relational. What more could I want from a job? My start date is October 15th. Not far away! I am happy about all of it because I know that it is right. It is probably not what I would consider my heart's desire, but it is what God's will is for me right now, and it IS my heart's desire to follow Him! After accepting the job this afternoon, I needed to grieve a little bit. The decision has been made... I'm not going back to Africa in January. STILL HARD?! Yes, still hard. It is almost a full moon tonight, and stepping outside into the brightness reminded me of tired but joyful nights under the moon in Mozambique. I remember walking in the dark, gazing up, never wanting to leave my place on the log, feeling happier than I ever thought a person could feel. Then the guards would walk by and shine their spotlight into my face, and chuckle. They must have wondered what it was about the night that I loved so much.

But being at home definitely has its perks, and I feel blessed! Today I spoke to a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. Of course I am not a mother of preschoolers, but since I want to be one someday, they let me in:). It was fantastic! They wanted to hear the details of life for mothers in Africa... down to specifics about childbirth (and boy do I have those specifics, haha). Every time I speak, which has been quite often lately, my heart starts aching. God is not allowing it to heal, and He is not allowing me to forget. Mozambique is constantly on my mind... it presses hard. The faces of friends... the laugher of children... the birds that would sing beautiful melodies to each other... the sunrise over the hills... imagining a house in the mango grove. Staying. Maybe someday.

A gift that I truly treasure about being home is having the chance to get to know Sarah, my new sister. I've always imagined being the best of friends with my brother's wife, and God has seen that desire of my heart and blessed it. We have had so much fun! She is beautiful and mysterious and infinite layers deep and full of delightful wit and talent. She is already my encourager, just like Josh, and a joy. Tonight we led worship together at Intervarsity (believe it or not, for several weeks now I have been playing my guitar IN PUBLIC!!) and I think it was the first of many years of doing that. At my grandpa's funeral she was by my side... holding my hand, reassuring, letting me cry. She is also an irreplaceable ally in my SLIGHTLY incomplete understanding of all things farm-related:). Today when I arrived to help paint their bathroom "sensual silver" (it's an amazing color!) she asked what was new on the farm. I reported that the guy who was supposed to build a very large bin for us a few weeks ago finally let us know that he won't be able to come. My dad and brother have been stressing about this bin for ages. Sarah said, "OH NO!!!" and I loved the fact that though neither of us understood exactly WHY not having the bin built was such a horrible thing, we both just knew that it was, in fact, very horrible.

At any rate, I'm enjoying being here for the early stages of Josh and Sarah's marriage. It's fun to see them just starting up. So I AM glad to be at home and AM experiencing God in new and awesome ways here. I was concerned that I wouldn't "need" God as much being in the States, but that has certainly not been the case. I've needed Him more than ever.

The other night while my brother was still at the farm I persuaded Sarah to help me try hanging up the two person hammock I gave them for a wedding gift. I had my eye on two trees outside their house that I anticipated would be perfect. However, they were too far apart and we didn't have any rope! We attempted to clip the caribeaners onto two flimsy branches of a single tree, and Sarah allowed me to try it out first, as it didn't look very sturdy:). To my dismay I quickly found myself sitting on a hammock on the ground:(. We need some rope and quick.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I love my new MacBook, though I am far from mastering all of its extensive features. The camera, however, is a fun and relatively simple tool.

Josh and Joel... lookin' good!!!


Enjoying our backyard earlier this afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Waking Up

There was a grin on my face the instant I woke up this morning. As I stretched and rolled onto my side I could only smile bigger at the awareness of the beautiful presence of my love... my Jesus. Maybe you have experienced the same thing. What made it even more thrilling was the length of time it has been since I have felt His presence so closely. It has been a difficult couple of months and I have been pressing on in the knowledge that God IS there, whether I feel Him or not. But to feel His presence again was a gift to me. As I was driving home tonight I popped in my new Bethany Dillon cd and cranked up this song which I love... and sing at the top of my lungs.

Waking Up

I'm on a flight home this morning
And I can't help but stare at You
My face pressed against this little window
The sky explodes in praise to You, to You
I know my words can't wrap their arms around You tight enough
But still I'll try in this simple song
To You, my Jesus

Because the more I fight it, the more I love You

As my eyes widen, I have to tell You

There's nothing like waking up
Waking up to You
There's nothing like waking up
Waking up to You
Oh, waking up to You

I am small, but I have seen
The same sun rise over India and Ohio fields

To strengthen the heart of this coward
So in every language, from every hurt
We echo affection back to You, Lord

There's nothing like waking up
Waking up to You
There's nothing like waking up
Waking up to You

Ah, that gives me goosebumps! God has been teaching me so many things. The main one this week (and it may sound very elementary, but it's pure joy to this elementary mind) is that there is nothing I can go through that is not understood fully by Jesus. When grieving the loss of a loved one, I can think about Jesus weeping over Lazarus. He wept, even though he KNEW that Lazarus would be raised from the dead. That helps me to know that I can weep over my grandpa and it is okay, even though I know I will see him again someday. The only thing that Jesus doesn't understand is consequences of sin, because Jesus was sinless. This is something else that completely baffles me, because so much of the pain I experience comes from poor choices I make. Jesus didn't make poor choices. When he suffered, he suffered unjustly. But he did it willingly in obedience to His Father.

My sister, Nina, turned 15 today. She is becoming such a beautiful young woman who loves God and has passion and vision. I am proud of her... and happy that we are at the point of sharing clothes, hehe:).

It is time for me to go to bed so that in the morning I can wake up... :) I have a job interview tomorrow!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grief and Joy

This photo is of my grandpa, Harlowe, two weeks ago. I went to spend the weekend with him and my grandma after she had major heart surgery. It was great just being with them again. My grandpa and I went out to the farm to watch my uncle and cousin roofing the barn, we went searching for horses to look at, bought doughnuts instead of healthy food at the grocery store, and took naps on the couch. Late this past Thursday night he had a massive stroke and passed away yesterday morning. He is with Jesus now!! My mom was able to go and say goodbye on Friday. Grandpa was unconscious, but we think he was able to hear and she gave him messages from us. She told him Josh followed his advice. You see, last year he was in the hospital for a while and Josh and I went to see him. He was in great spirits and we talked all afternoon. We talked about relationships and Josh asked what advice Grandpa had, considering he and my grandma were married 60 years! "Well," he said, "I just knew I had to marry a pretty one. After all, I figured the kids needed at least half a chance!" :) He was too funny. From me my mom told him that when I marry, I want it to be a man like him. That is as true as true could be. The way he loved my grandma was a beautiful thing to behold, while still being a strong leader. He taught me so much about God, not so much by saying anything, but just by living. I wish I could have told him myself, but we needed to stay home to continue preparing the farm for Josh and Sarah's reception.

It has been a rat race all week! Tonight it is all over. The last guests have gone home... no more baking, no more sweeping, no more scrubbing, no more battles with spider webs in corners of buildings where no one would ever go but it just needed to be clean IN CASE:). In every way I'm just exhausted beyond words. I remember the last time I was this tired. It was in Mozambique, and we had just had an intensely hard week. Then to top it off there was a day of chaos and demands from dawn until long past dark. I collapsed into bed, tucked in my mosquito net, and cried myself to sleep:). Sarah loves to tell that story now.

Everyone has been so good to us as we have been juggling a strange mix of grief and joy. We feel very blessed and celebrate all that God has done. He has given us Sarah, and He has taken Grandpa HOME. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Please pray for my mom specifically, as she and her dad were very close. Also of course for my grandma, Helen. She came to the reception today and is doing well, but I cannot imagine losing my husband of 60 years. She misses him. The memorial service is tomorrow night and the funeral is on Tuesday. After that we will crash.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

J&S Hitchin' Highlights

Today was perfect. Actually, the entire weekend was perfect! During the ceremony the presence of God was like a blanket draped over the area. There was beauty everywhere we looked. Tonight I have the blessing of knowing I have gained a sister and lifelong friend in Sarah Perry Hardie. If I could have specifically chosen and put together a woman for my brother, I could never have conjured up someone as perfect as Sarah. The more I see her and talk with her, the more I love her. I love her genuineness, her quiet humor, and her humility. I especially love the way she makes my brother come alive. More than one person commented that they have never seen such a delighted groom. Truly I think they are the same person in different genders. Josh had told me they were similar, but really... how alike they are is uncanny! I love it. As an added bonus, Sarah's family is AWESOME!!! I don't really want to leave Texas tomorrow because I've had such fun spending time with them. Sarah is the oldest of 7 children, and they are all fabulous.

Here are a few of the highlights from the weekend that stand out in my mind...

The flight down in our Cherokee 6... it was great quality time, even though it was about 110 degrees in the plane and bouncy the whole way. It reminded us of driving in Mozambique:).

Meeting the Perry's (Rick, Holly, Chelsea, Keith, Rachel, Jonathon, Matt, and Mercy) and Sarah's pet snake, Isabel. I even held the crazy reptile! We watched it eat a mouse and it was very 'Discovery Channel'.

Getting manicures and pedicures with the girls. The guy who did mine was from Vietnam and LOVED the fact that I know people who have been there. He did an awesome job, although I'm positive he was scared of my black toe...

Hearing Sarah tell the "Ilene" joke. It's going to be all over Texas! Also just seeing how committed Sarah is to Josh, and Josh to Sarah. Their marriage is going to be a continual testimony of God's grace.

Waking up this morning, having Emma stretch out and say... "I want to go EVERYWHERE with you!" haha, perfect!!!

Sitting with my brother this morning right before the ceremony, praying together and crying because God has done something so BEAUTIFUL!!!

Holding the prettiest flower bouquet I have ever seen... cally lilies and orchids from Singapore!!

Tears, tears, tears... my job was to provide the emotion and I followed through:).


We are leaving early in the morning to fly home and prepare for their ND reception next weekend! I'm hoping this flight will be cooler and smoother than the last one...

Pictures at

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Watermelon and Good Friends

Technology is amazing. Today I had my first real Skype experience and was totally blown away! I could see friends in South Africa and they could see me and we could talk. All for FREE!! What a sweet deal.

I had the perfect small town experience in the grocery store last week. My intention was a quick in and out for milk and watermelon, but I had forgotten that "quick" doesn't happen at Econo Foods. Why?! Because a person is sure to run into at least one if not several friends or acquaintances somewhere between produce and check-out. As I pulled my cart up to the watermelon display, I was greeted by two gentleman from my church who work at the store. The resulting conversation led us into a detailed description of how to "pick out a good one". After pressing on the ends of several watermelons and knocking on most of them, I had learned quite a lot! Feeling confident with my choice and delighted with the conversation we had just had, I pressed on. Arriving at check-out with my carefully selected watermelon and more hurredly chosen milk, I wasn't incredibly far behind schedule. The jolly older gentleman behind the check-out counter immediately struck up a conversation. He wanted to know what I was up to on that particular day and I filled him in. Then he said, "do you have time for a joke?" Of course there is ALWAYS time for a joke. He continued, "I just asked you if you swiped your card, right?" "Right." I said, gearing up for the punch line. "Now I am going to ask you, where did you swipe it from?" Haha:-D, I love that, and grabbed my bags with a grin on my face. A few steps later I was in another conversation, this one taking place next to the softener salt between check-out and the parking lot. Then I was on my way! You really can't beat that. It reminded me of Africa... where time is always secondary to conversations.

Today Sarah-Ki and I went on a picnic. It was my second since being home (the other one last week with my mom), and every time I go on one I think that there is altogether not enough picnic-ing going on in the world. In Mozambique I have GREAT memories of picnics, especially the last one before saying goodbye. Today was another goodie! After living an intense year of life together, Sarah is one with which I can pour out the depths of my heart and she is ever gracious and understanding with what is found there. She is truly a precious, precious friend!!

Rachel and I nearly got pedicures this afternoon, considering the awful condition of our feet. Marathon training has not been good to them (as you can see in this disturbing foot photo). But still I could not justify parting with the 30 bucks, and we opted for coffee instead.

Emma is moving to Omaha tomorrow to spend two years getting her Masters degree in social work:(.

I am very sad about this, but HAPPY that she is coming to Josh and Sarah's wedding this weekend so we have more time together! My family flies out in the morning for a lovely weekend in Texas. I've never seen two people quite so excited to get married as Josh and Sarah! That's the way it should be. 4 days and counting...

I have just started posting pictures on and will continue to update in the future (it's much easier than putting them on here)!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007



As you probably know, I have been struggling a lot with coming to a decision about where to go next year. I've wanted with all of my heart to be back in Africa almost immediately after the final Christmas gift is opened, the last drop of eggnog vanished, and the final fa-la-la-la-la fading. But that is not to be. I've been sensing it for quite a while, but last week God had finally brought me to a place where I was ready to accept it, and confirmed His will with a verse.

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." Psalm 37:3

There are times when God speaks and it is clear. There are moments when He uses His Word and it is as though a specific verse was written exactly for me and my current situation. This certainly does not happen every day, but when it does... I know it. This verse confirmed to me that I am to dwell in the land... THIS land... for at least a year. So in a couple of weeks I will be applying for a job in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Fargo. I already have found an absolutely adorable apartment and will move in mid-November, so things are falling into place. Now that the decision is made, I'm excited! I'm looking forward to getting time with people who I have needed to neglect over the past several years because of various other commitments commanding my attention. I am thrilled to be free to attend some of my sister's basketball games this winter, to think about sledding and building snowmen after the first good blizzard, to get to know my new sister and help her settle in here (BIG change from Texas!), and to have the opportunity to get involved with what God is doing right here at home. All the while, of course, I will be thinking of and praying for other places... places where my heart lies... Mozambique, South Africa, Nepal, and Nigeria to name a few, and others that I have not yet seen but know that I would love. Places where poverty and death run rampant but where God is at work. It will be wonderful to be home for a season and I will learn and gain much from being here. I am content to take this next step and let God speak for what I should do after the year when His time is right. His ways are so far beyond my ability to understand, but I am learning to accept that and even love that about him... well, sometimes:).

This is random, but I was wondering today why I'm so forgetful? For example, does anyone else ever get off the phone with someone and realize that you said basically NOTHING of what you wanted to say to that person? Why does that happen? Or does anyone else go to a closet to find something and then stand in there for several minutes just staring at nothing, not sure why you are there? I must be getting old, because I have done both of these things recently.

In the mood for some country music:)...


I have been picking my way through Henri Nouwen's book, 'Compassion', and the reason for my slowness is anything but boredom. On the contrary, this book has more markings covering its pages than a football coach's chalkboard. I have been feasting slowly on the observations of a Godly man whose life and ministry I deeply admire. Since I haven't finished the book (in all honesty I have only finished two chapters... the other reason being a mad flourish of wedding preparations) I will save most of my comments for the end, but wanted to post this paragraph today. It moved me, and it moves me still...

"Jesus' whole life and mission involve accepting powerlessness and
revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God's love. Here
we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the
underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out
from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a
gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the
upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to
those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a
home there. God's compassion is total, absolute, unconditional,
without reservation. It is the compassion of the one who keeps going
to the most forgotten corners of the world, and who cannot rest as
long as there are still human beings with tears in their eyes..."

- excerpt from 'Compassion' (pg. 25)