34 Days of Favorites

Well, it’s my birthday on Wednesday.

I’ve always loved birthdays. I never used to understand why Ben didn’t. He just hated getting old, and I lived in denial and enjoyed the party.

But this year the number 34 is getting to me a bit. I seem to be racing along towards 40 at an alarming pace.

My thoughts on birthdays generally stays the same, though: I love my life, I love what I’m doing and where I’m at, I wouldn’t want to go back in time, and I love everything these 34 years of living have taught me, so it is just a number that’s bothering me.

And there is no way a number is going to get me down.

We will party on towards 40.

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I have written a number of times before about my family’s tradition of recording a person’s favorite things each year on their birthday. I don’t know how many years’ worth of pages I have stating spaghetti and chocolate cake as my favorites.

Well, I’m not eating much spaghetti and chocolate cake these days anymore, and I’m learning as the years go by that change is a wonderful thing.

These birthday lists have helped me to see how each year, I have the opportunity to change my life for the better. I am intentionally making choices to learn and grow, so that on my birthday, I can look back and say, “It was a good year. Look at what I’ve learned. See how I’ve embraced change, conquered old, bad habits, and risen to the occasion.”

Other years, I’ve made posts full of long lists, but one day while I was in the shower, I had a fun idea. (All good ideas come in the shower. Have you ever noticed that?)

My fun idea was to spread it out – one favorite thing a day for 34 days. As soon as I thought it, I regretted it, because I had no idea if I could actually come up with 34 new, wonderful things I’ve experienced in the last year.

Ben said, “No problem! Of course you can do 34!”

So the stubborn side of me turned this into a challenge that must be conquered, and we’ll see how it works out.

Starting Wednesday, in honour of my birthday, I will introduce you to my favorite things right now. (To read my lists from 2010 and 2011, click on the year.)

That’s my challenge.

Your challenge is to try one of my favorite things (so it can become your favorite, too!!), leave a comment, and I’ll enter you in a draw for a prize. I’ll use my birthday money to buy you a gift!:) The more fun things you try, the more your name gets entered, and the better chance you have of receiving the prize.

Oh, fun all around for everyone!

Okay, now I’m off to keep working on my list of favorites…

Write a Good Story

If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you. (p.59, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)


It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let Me help. (p. 246-247, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

Isn’t that great? That last line is my favorite.

Writing a good story has been on my mind a lot in the recent weeks, for two reasons:

  1. I just finished Donald Miller‘s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is so good that you should really head on over to Amazon immediately to buy it. It is changing everything about the way I look at life.
  2. Everything in our lives has been changing anyway, because of moving. We are in this huge state of transitioning and starting over, so Ben and I have had many, many talks about how to start well. What do we want our story to be? How do we want this to look? What choices do we want to make which might not make sense to everyone else right now, but lead to the story we want to write, as a whole? Big questions, lots of ideas, a work in progress.

What I’m finding most often right now, is that “good” doesn’t have to be “big”. I think our culture teaches us that in order for something to be worthwhile, meaningful, and valuable, it needs to be big – big dreams, big ambition, big success.

But how often is it not the little things which really end up being the big things? The good things are the small, simple things.

If God chose to make every single sunset different and unique, just for the beauty of it, you’d think it means He’s into details. He seems to create for the pleasure of it. He made us to create, for the pleasure of it.

He also gave us the ability to experience flashes of joy from such simple things, we almost don’t notice it – flash, and then it’s gone.

But in a world with so much pain and suffering, I think the small flash is noteworthy – it gives us more joy to hang on and let it linger, and it tells us something about God’s view of size. Small flashes of joy, again and again and again, add up after awhile. He made it pretty easy for us to feel joy, but He often does so in the small things.

So basically, I’m learning about living a good life, writing a good story, and realizing that it’s found in the little things, in holding onto the quick flashes.

It’s the everyday stuff, like loving my family, going off on an adventure, and finding Jesus in all of it.

Now you should go buy Donald Miller’s book. 🙂

Enjoy Life

found here

Maybe I shall frame this, and hang it someplace where I’ll see it all the time!!

I feel like there is a constant struggle going on inside me right now to try to stay in this moment – to enjoy right now, because time is flying by. Before you know it, moving day will be here, and I’ll leave my beloved Red Rock Bible Camp behind, and it will be the end of a very special chapter in our family’s story.

Moving kind of sucks. I don’t like good-byes, and I don’t like a chaotic house.

Good-byes and chaos pretty much sum up life right now, however, and it is hard not to wish it away.

But these are the days to embrace it all – to live fully present and enjoy it, before it’s all gone.

And you know what’s funny? So often I look back, and I can’t remember the hard stuff very well! I love it that it’s possible to look back on something hard, and forget the negative stuff.

My favorite example of this happened on our wedding day….

It was a cloudy day, raining off and on, and we weren’t able to take pictures in my parents’ yard like we’d planned. So we headed off to our indoor back-up location, and took most of our pictures there.

But the rain stopped, and our photographer suggested we get a few shots outside. It worked out well for awhile, but then it started to rain again, and we all headed for shelter.

My dress was huge, my heels were high, and getting anywhere quickly wasn’t the easiest endeavor. As we tried to make a run for it, our photographer spotted a bench in a beautiful little spot, and stopped us to say, “I know it’s starting to drizzle, but I’d love to get a shot of you on that bench.”

I was not impressed.

I had absolutely no desire to get my hair, make-up, veil, and dress wet in the rain. But I clearly remember standing there thinking (grumpily), “Well, I guess we’d better let him take the picture, because just watch – it will end up being my favorite.”

And it was! It was the photo we chose to use for all of our thank-you cards, and it’s the one I still choose to have up on our wall.

It is by far my favorite.

Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the choice I made that day, and try to renew my commitment to making that same choice in the future!

Because  you know what? Right now, this chaos and these good-byes could end up being among my favorite memories. I want to do this time well.

I don’t want to wish it away.

P.S. For anyone who’s sick of moving posts, just think – at this time next week, we will actually be moving! Then you’ll get to read “Settling In” posts…Or maybe “I Miss the Lake So Much I Can’t Stand It” posts!