Thankful | The Circle Link-up November 2015


I’ve been meaning to join in with Kiki and her monthly Circle Link-Up for a while now, but then it sneaks up on me and I forget. This month I planned ahead though, and in the spirit of God not letting me not be grateful recently, (part one, and part two) I figured I would join in on November’s topic (side note: how is it the end of November already??) of creating an acrostic for the word THANKFUL. So here goes!

T – Time


I’ve been thankful for a job that allows us to have a flexible schedule so I can have time to myself in the mornings.

I’m also soooo excited that we get to go back to America for furlough in just three weeks! Can’t wait for that time with family and friends.

H – Husband.


Seriously. True love is when he has to get up and leave before me so he gets a fire going in the fireplace and leaves coffee in the pot for me. He has gone above and beyond the past few weeks to take on a lot of my responsibilities for me, and to physically go and do with me things he can’t do for me. I’m such a better person because he is helping give me space to breathe and be.

A – Annual Visa paperwork is DONE

Ok so every year we have to get a volunteer worker visas to stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And every year it’s a royal pain. Ever since McDonald’s came to BiH during our second year here, it’s the tradition that when you finish all of your paperwork (which takes weeks of your life and many trips to many government offices) you splurge there. We finished ours last week and I feel so free! It was even accepted on the first time around..which is some sort of record I think.

N -Niko (duh!)


This guy can make me so mad. But, at the same time I have never loved so much or learned so much from one thing. I’m sure that will change if we ever have kids, but for now, Niko is the baby and we’re learning a lot from our life not being our own. Plus he keeps me in shape by needing so many walks.

K – Kind friends


I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here yet, but we’re getting a new puppy for Christmas!! His name is Olympus Addicus Cunningham (Ollie) and we’ll get him when we go back to the States. (Above is Niko and I face timing with Addie and Ollie)

Basically the stars (almost) aligned again and we could get another Goldendoodle from one of Niko’s same parents. The problem was that he would need to come home from the breeders 3 weeks before we get home.

Our friends have graciously taken him on and are dealing with the early stages of potty training (did I mention they just moved into a new house a month ago) and having a needy puppy over the holidays.

I’m so grateful that we have people in our lives who would go to such lengths for us.

F – Fireplace


We started our first fire a few nights ago and I am so happy about it! We heat our house with this wood burning stove..and although I have a hard time getting out of bed in the cold to get it started…I do enjoy the simple joy it brings me. I’m not sure why I love it so much, but I do.

U- Unbelievable weather

So, summer here in Mostar is unbearable. Most people say it’s the worst thing about Mostar. It’s the hide inside with the curtains drawn from 11-5 kind of hot. There was great rejoicing in our house when we survived our first summer here. Then people started to change their tune and tell me that rainy season (which comes after summer apparently) is in fact the worst…and after two weeks of intense rain I started to believe them. I began to despair.

But God, in his mercy…has given the dog and me weeks and weeks of absolutely beautiful, can’t complain about it weather! It’s cool in the mornings and evenings and want-to-lay-in-the-sun-all-day warm in the afternoons. I am a much happier person when the skies are blue. It has been marvelous!

I’m just hoping it will last until we head to America and we miss the rain all together. Fingers crossed!

L- Life in BiH

I have been sharing with Craig that I feel like we’re so much better off because we live in BiH. Things I would *want* to be true of me in America are things that we are forced to do here

I feel blessed to live in a place where produce is fresh and mostly organic, where we don’t have as many preservatives in our foods and eating bad here is still significantly better than eating bad in America. I love that we live in a walking city and sometimes the only time we drive during the week is to make a big trip to the big grocery store across town. I love that my dog knows what a bakery is and is motivated by bread. I love that my walk to work is that last picture up there.


Whew! That was harder than I thought it would be and I had to get a little creative with some of the letters. It was a fun reminder to me that I do have a lot to be thankful for.

What about you? What are you thankful for?


I’m joining the circle link up, you can too!


Sheath your swords, soldiers.

I’ve been struggling to find the best way to start out this post without sounding overwhelmingly cliche.

Goodness knows the world does not need another response to the craziness of life these days post. But my heart does.

We’ve had a lot of chaos going on recently. Supreme court decisions, gender and race issues, riots and rebellions over religion, acts of terrorism, debates over refugees, and more. What’s crazier than all this craziness to me though is peoples’ responses. When some new crisis hits the news circuit, I cringe because I know what’s coming. The opinions are about to come out of the woodwork.

No matter what the political or religious stance there will be articles and blog posts galore backing up one point of view and or bashing the other side.

As a follower of Jesus I am most often saddened by the Christian response. I don’t know when it happened but Christians decided it’s their job to police the world.

It brings to mind the Bible story where Judas betrays Jesus.

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

	When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with
 his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a 
garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who 
betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there 
with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of 
soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the 
Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 
Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward
and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, 
“Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, 
who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to 
them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he
 asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus
 of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So,
 if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the
 word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have 
lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and 
struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. 
(The servant's name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup 
that the Father has given me?”

(John 18:1-11 ESV)

They’re in the garden and the soldiers come to take Jesus away. Peter, oh well meaning Peter, decides he’s pretty miffed about what the soldiers have decided to do and ups and cuts a guy’s ear off!  Peter was supporting his cause, letting those guys know that they were talking to Jesus, and how dare they treat him like that.

What does Jesus do? Does he give him a gold star or a “oh thanks Peter for defending my name?” No.

He rebukes him.

Jesus tells him to put his sword away.

You see, Jesus doesn’t need to be defended. Believe it or not He can stand on His own. He doesn’t need us, however good our intentions are, wielding our swords for the sake of His name.

Our swords look different these days. They take the shape of words, conversations, blog posts, and most commonly, articles re-posted on Facebook.

But do you know what happens when you cut someone’s ear off? When you ferociously take a stance? When you argue? When you slander? When you defend Jesus on an issue he didn’t ask you to defend him on?

When you cut off someones ear, they aren’t able to hear. They’ll never be able to listen to what you have to say. They’ll never have the chance of deciding for themselves whether or not what you said was true.

We (myself included) need to think about what we’re posting, what we’re saying. Is it going to cut off some ears? Is it offensive? Is it being posted for the sake of everyone knowing your opinion? Because, honey, we all already know your opinions.

I urge you to consider how your articles and statuses would come across to someone with an opposite view. Would they be intrigued by your humbleness, or immediately feel the strokes of the sword you’re swinging?

Let’s sheath our swords, soldiers. And instead seek to understand with compassion, to humbly ask questions of the “other side” and tangibly act on our beliefs instead of just posting articles about them. Or maybe, just say nothing at all.



Practicing gratitude. (Yes, another post on giving thanks)

You guys.

It happened again. And I can’t make this stuff up.

I was journaling this morning and actually being diligent to write down things I’m grateful for. When I couldn’t think of anymore for the morning I put down my pen and literally thought to myself “I have a little bit of time left this morning, I could write a Thankful Thursday post. Should I? No. I said I wouldn’t participate in the monthly social media thanksgiving hooplah. I’ll read my Brene Brown book instead.” So I opened up The Gifts of Imperfection for a quick read.

Do you see it coming?

Of course. The entire stinkin’ chapter is on gratitude.

111. The beautiful colors of the pumpkins on my table, that I could find them here, that I can enjoy their uniqueness

111. The beautiful colors of the pumpkins on my table, that I could find them here, that I can enjoy their uniqueness

I practically highlighted the whole thing so I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to share it all…but man she got me.

“Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.

People were quick to point out the differences between happiness and joy as the difference between a human emotion that’s connected to circumstances and a spiritual way of engaging the the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.

When it comes to gratitude, the word that jumped out to me throughout this research process is practice.”

112. No rain. Hallelujah. Beautiful, actual Fall, weather.

112. No rain. Hallelujah. Beautiful, actual Fall, weather.

I don’t know about you but I most commonly associate the word practice with athletes and sports. We don’t become a body builder after just one workout, and no one becomes a soccer player by simply buying a soccer ball. There are weeks, months, years, lifetimes of practice and work that go into making them and their bodies the athletes that they are.

In the same way, one day of throwing up thanks isn’t going to change my perspective all that much, and buying a gratitude journal without filling it isn’t going to make me a joyful person.

115. Open Mountain tops free of shepherds, sheep, and cows, for the pup to run around on.

115. Open Mountain tops free of shepherds, sheep, and cows, for the pup to run around on.

It takes practice..


…lifetimes of intentional numbering.

118. Dunkin Donuts coffee and the hands that bought it for us and brought it to us.

118. Dunkin Donuts coffee and the hands that bought it for us and brought it to us.

122. Chances to look beyond myself (even when I'm tempted not to) and to be builders of young men (and women.)

122. Chances to look beyond myself (even when I’m tempted not to) and to be builders of young men (and women.)

So here’s to more of practicing giving thanks. To a joyful life.

What about you? What do you do to practice gratitude? Is it something that you’ve been training at for years, or a practice you need to get back into?

I’m linking up with the Secret Blogger Club and Thankful Thursday.

Being Thankful vs. Giving Thanks

Confession: When November started and I saw the first of the month of gratitude posts I rolled my eyes.

Confession: When Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 gifts was all the rage I thought it was positive thinking mumbo jumbo and didn’t want to read it.

Confession: I don’t feel like giving thanks right now.

Once again, God has ransacked my plans.


85. Friends who send treats when they can’t send their presence.

The second day of November rolled around, and as is often the case, I was scrolling through my news feeds before spending time with the Lord. I saw a few of the “day two..I’m thankful for..” posts and vowed to myself that I wouldn’t participate. It’s just silly, I told myself. It’s just people saying good stuff they have going on in their lives and refusing to rejoice in the uncomfortable, or the bad, or the wherever God has them.

Oh but that Heavenly Father of ours has a sense a humor doesn’t He? I should really start to see it coming…but then I wouldn’t be blindsided and knocked over by truth and forced to sit it for a while so I guess it works out well.

I was reading from Joni Eareckson Tada’s book A Place of Healing (If you don’t know her story, Joni is a quadriplegic), and as providence would have it, she was talking about giving thanks and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

“God isn’t asking you to be thankful,” she said, “He’s asking you to give thanks.”


Just like that.

He swept in and left me breathless, and without excuse to not give thanks.

You see, being thankful involves my emotions, which are sometimes out of control. But giving thanks involves my participation and my choice about my situation. Giving thanks involves a step of faith, and steps of faith can often be hard.

Giving thanks doesn’t always come easy, and that’s ok. What’s not ok is choosing not to take the steps anyway.

86. A puppy who just wants all the attention and love I can give to him-unconditional love.

86. A puppy who just wants all the attention and love I can give to him (Even if he’s obnoxious and unrelenting)–unconditional love.

I love the concept Ann shares in 1,000 gifts, which I finally read and actually loved, that eucharisteo (grace, joy, thanksgiving) always precedes the miracle.

Maybe the miracle is that in giving thanks I will actually ultimately be thankful.

89. Finding a house with a yard for the dog, even if it's full of cats (who like to sleep on the shed roof)

89. Finding a house with a yard for the dog, even if it’s full of cats (who like to sleep on the shed roof)

So. I’m still not going to do thirty days of social media statuses on things that are going well in my life. But I am going to go before the Lord and give thanks. I am going to pick up the practice again of daily numbering ways I can give thanks.

102. People who know about and are willing to teach about soul care here in BiH.

102. People who know about and are willing to teach about soul care here in BiH.

Confession: I have no idea how Biblically sound or accurate this is. I don’t know if Paul purposefully wrote “give thanks” instead of “be thankful,” but I know that that’s what God spoke to me, and I know I am being called into a time of giving thanks. Praying that will lead to me ultimately being thankful.

How does giving thanks strike you? Is it easy for you? What are you able to give thanks for?

I’m linking up with The Secret Blogger Club and Thankful Thursday.

October and Blondetober Wrap-Up

I love a good challenge! I’ve told Craig before that I would love to do a whole blogging series where I just try new fads and challenges for a month and report back on them. Something in me just yells “challenge accepted!” (Barney Stinson anyone??) and I love the community and camaraderie they bring.

All that to say, when through the September  Blog-tember  challenge I found Kelsey and her October Blondetober Instagram challenge…I had to join in.

Much like Blog-tember I didn’t hold too fastly to the schedule and if I couldn’t find something in my day to make the prompt work, I didn’t. There were some days where the pormpt did inspire me to go a step beyond my normal schedule and into something Fall and fun, and I enjoyed those days.

Here’s my October in review, Blondetober style


Blondetober prompt list

IMG_2027Day 3: It’s a weekend thing

“Getting some energy out of the pup up on the hill right above our house, before we get back to painting furniture all day”

IMG_2043“Another sunset romp with the pup to end the weekend.”

Driving up to the mountain on the weekends with the dog is quickly becoming one of our favorite things. He runs to his heart’s content while we relax and breath the fresh air and take in the view.

IMG_2055Day 6: All that Sparkles

“Give me my basic white girl card because I made myself a pumpkin spice latte and sat down to start Simply Tuesday this morning before starting on the seemingly endless to do list…thanks to the blondetober challenge for inspiring me to go a little further and add some extra sparkle to my journaling this morning.”

IMG_2113Day 13: Currently

“Sneaking in the last few chapters of a book with the cuddly pup before we face the day”

IMG_2135Day 14: Office attire

“When you work with students this is as office attire as you get..chambray, yellow fall pants, leopard print flats, and a puppy of course!”

IMG_2143Day 15: Pun intended

“From under my umbrella -ella -ella -ella -eh -eh. Rainy Season is upon us. Sigh….I’ve got nothing for day 15…hope you get “swept away” by this awesome picture??? Haha no.”

Mostar during rainy season might be worse that Mostar during the summer. Might. Probably not, but it was so depressing! I’m glad it cleared up for us to get a bit of nice Fall weather.

IMG_2174Day 16: Golden Hour

“Backyard bouquets and golden hour. In the interest of realness: there is real frustration going on with the new house right now. Things keep breaking and ruining and it just does not feel like home. I was happy to find beauty here though in this fall bouquet picked from the backyard. I also was beginning to think that the rain would never stop…but we got a treat of dryness today even if it was still gross and the sun came out just in time to go down.”

IMG_2202Day 17: This is my town

“We did all things Fall today including wearing plaid and scouring the town for pumpkins. I found an orange one this year! Craig made us this awesome backyard gate out of some old shutters that friends gifted us. I made pumpkin donuts and the Noles play at a decent time for us. Thank ya Jesus.”

Halloween and all things Pumpkin haven’t made it to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We always have to hunt for pumpkins which they occasionally have here but they’re almost always green and used for making soup or one of their cultural dishes, pita.

IMG_2292Day 23: Adventure Friday

“This is as adventure Friday as it’s getting today. Venturing to the doctors to be diagnosed with bronchitis and have a table for Svaki Student at a university event fair, and back home to crash, because…you know…bronchitis. Trying to make up for the fact that I didn’t ever put on real clothes or leave the house yesterday.”

IMG_2323Day 24: Mugsy

” Because Polish Pottery and comfy sweatshirts are proven to help you feel better”

IMG_2391Day 25: Chasing Daylight

“We had daylight savings this weekend here and so we’re trying to get in all the sunshine and mountain romping in we can before darkness and winter roll in.”

Aka, Stephanie thinks she’s a model but someone please tell her she’s not!

We change time over here before America so we always have a week or two of confusion as to whether we’re 5,6,or 7 hours ahead of our families now. We haaaaaaate the change in the Fall because that means it gets dark around 4:30…and that’s so hard. I’m thinking about investing in one of those happy lights..

IMG_2404Day 26: #AmIRight

“According to my Instagram feed today looks like it could be National Fall Leaves Day. Love living in a place with actual seasons!”

IMG_2444Day 31: Boo!

“Oh,good morning Fall in the valley.”

The Bosnian church has a retreat house at a lake in the woods where we go for a lot of our student retreats. We were there over the weekend for our Fall Retreat and I always love waking up to the view there.

There’s a little October re-cap for you, Blondetober style. Looking forward to seeing what November brings. It’s our last month before we head to America for furlough over the holidays so it will surely bring lots to do and much anticipation.