Monday, May 30, 2011

Becoming grateful... the gift of sacrifice

Memorial Day.
A day to remember.  
To remember the high calling of those who 
have served, 
are serving, 
and will serve
 our country through the armed forces.  
A day to reflect on the sacrifices made daily by many, 
especially the greatest sacrifice that one can make: 
giving up one's life for others.

Immense love shown through great sacrifice, 
reflecting the sacrifice of the One who loves more deeply than all others.  
The One who served God and others, 
modeling a servant's heart for those who follow.
The One undeserving of death yet willing, all the same, to die for the undeserving.
The One who portrays the true meaning of sacrifice.

I am so grateful for those who have died for my country 
and the reminder of the One who has died for us all.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
~John 15:12-13~

Despite my lack of posts lately, I am still continuing the count of the blessings in my life.  Here are some gifts that I have experienced in the past few weeks:

Anna's new addition, a puppy named Haddie

A baby shower for dear friends

An afternoon spent with these friends

Painting onesies (and laughing together about our different onesie art ideas)

The BEST baby faces... 

Mama and baby

(this was a HUGE deal for me...)

Macaroni + Pizza = 2 of my favorite things combined  

Classmate bonding on a $5 pizza buffet date 

The birth of Danny Jr. 
(In the picture above, he is still in Mom's belly... she is the one on the left.  This was less than 48 hours before he decided to pop into the world a little early!)

A puppy who seems interested in what I'm saying to her....

I hope everyone has a blessed Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy BIRTHday, Danny Jr!

Today, darling 6 lb. 1 oz. Danny Jr. was born to my friends Daniel, a fellow classmate, and Jenny, his lovely wife.  2 days premature, the little guy is healthy and absolutely ADORABLE!  

Anna and I decided to go visit the precious family, and not long after we got there, several of our other classmates and friends arrived.  Of course, I whipped out the camera... and I was slightly laughed at by everyone... (They are just now realizing that I bring my camera with me everywhere.  Where have they been the past 2 years of school?!)  

Friend photos with the little one...
Roger and Danny 
Nancy and Danny
Anna and Danny

With Sam, who will soon have a baby of his own, it took a lot of convincing
 to get him to hold the baby.... he seemed to think he would break him.
Roger with Carter... clearly a different baby
Carter and Danny meeting for the first time (Carter was modeling for me...)
Thank goodness I had my camera, because the little family had not even had their first family photo yet!  So after taking millions of pictures of Danny with everyone else, I finally convinced Mom and Dad to huddle up with baby for a few pictures....  

The very first picture of all three together
Danny even smiled for this one!

CONGRATULATIONS Daniel and Jenny, 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Organized chaos...

Have you ever noticed that if you are really trying to organize something, it is always messier before it's cleaner??

That is how my life is right now.  I have been a little absent from the blog (and I've greatly missed it!), but amidst the organized chaos of my life at the moment, it has had to be pushed aside a bit.  So in an attempt to "organize" the past 2 weeks, here is a listed update of my life (if anyone is interested :)...

1.  After finals, I had a week off... but it was a very full week in which I tried to organize my apartment... and this is STILL going on now. (It looks cleaner to me, but I don't know if anyone else would think so... but I know that it is more organized than before.... it's a process, right?)

2.  I babysat sweet Hannah again... 

and I also watched sweet little Carlee, the daughter of one of my professors.  

My, oh, my... I love those red curls!

3.  I have had some much needed friend time.

4.  I've snuggled with this girl... (of course, this happens regularly, but I needed an excuse to post a picture of her...)

5.  I started summer classes on this past Monday.  For whatever disillusioned reason, I thought I would have MORE time in the summer.... boy, was I wrong!  At the moment I have class 4 days a week, and two of those days are EXTREMELY long with only one 30 minute break between classes.... not to mention all the homework that must happen outside of class.  Thank goodness I love what I'm learning!

6.  The good news is that I see my lovely friends 4 days of the week.  Somehow, it makes it more bearable.

7.  I am now assisting in the wonderful research of a new Wheaton professor!  (It feels a little weird to be excited about research, but this is such a great opportunity, I can't help it!)

8.  I'm cleaning/organizing.  Still.

9.  I've battled a cold/sinus infection/earache and a migraine this week (I'm fine now, but this definitely put a kink in my ability to complete tasks.)

10.  I bought groceries yesterday.... there is no need for me to tell you how long I've gone without buying groceries.  Suffice it to say, it's been a while.

11.  Today, other than doing a million little things on my list... I have a baby shower to go to, and then a birthday party this evening.

12.  I'm painting, painting, painting!  I have several projects in the works for friends and family, and hopefully, I will be finished in the next week!  (And I will post some pictures, too.)  Here is a painting I made for a professor last week...

"You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy." 
~John Calvin~
(My professor went to Calvin College... and this is just a very therapist-like quote.)

13.  Tomorrow is the memorial service for my friend Julie's brother.  Prayers are still appreciated for Julie and her family!  It has been a very rough week for her, and I think the next few days are only going to be more challenging as the shock continues to wear off.

So that about sums up the organized chaos of the past 2 weeks.  I hope that in the next week or two, things will begin to slow down and the organized chaos will begin to look less like chaos and more like organization.... but we shall see!  Hopefully, this will also lead to a more regular posting schedule! :)

Love to all, and I hope you have a blessed Saturday! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prayer request

Will you join me in prayer for my dear friend Julie and her family?  

They just learned yesterday morning that her brother died unexpectedly of unknown causes.  He was in his early thirties, and in this past year, he has become both a husband and a father to a precious baby boy... so his death is affecting so many people.  

Julie has been such a light in my life when I have been going through trials, and it hurts my heart so much that she is having to go through this.  She has a lot of HUGE things coming up in our doctoral program, and I can't even imagine accomplishing these tasks after something like this happening.  So please help me lift her up in prayer!  I know she would appreciate it. 


Monday, May 9, 2011

Becoming grateful... the whirlwind week of blessings

Have you ever had one of those random moments when you just all of a sudden realize how absolutely blessed you are?

To a certain extent, I am usually aware of blessings, especially as I intentionally count the God gifts... but then sometimes I am suddenly hit with a wave of awe and wonder at the beautiful gifts in my life.

This past week has been an absolute whirlwind... finishing papers, ending with clients, saying goodbye to mentors and new friends, filming a video, attending a banquet, a bonfire, and my dear friends' graduation, and having very many friend bonding moments.

The stress has been intense, but the blessings immense.

I am absolutely in love with the people God has placed in my life.  This whirlwind of a week has particularly shown me how special the people are who have poured into my life for the past 2 years.  I am also in complete awe of God's timing.

During the trials of the past year and a half, God has surrounded me with the perfect people.  They aren't perfect by any means, but they are perfectly what I needed during this season of my life.  I never would have imagined being blessed in such a way.

There is nothing quite like the grace, love, emotional acceptance, and patience of therapists, and I am surrounded by them.  Dear people who look at me and say, "How are you doing?" and expect complete and utter honesty.  People who can look into my eyes and somehow see into my heart, and they are not at all ashamed or embarrassed to say what they feel like needs to be said.  People who will randomly approach, huge tears in their eyes, and say, "I just need to tell you what it is like to be around you... to experience you," and mean every word uttered from that point on.  People who want to hear you... and I mean REALLY hear you.  Not just the words, but the meaning and emotions and the person behind the words.

When I needed it most, God placed me in a world filled with lovely hearts that earnestly seek to know my own heart... and even more importantly, these hearts don't mind touching pain.  They do it on a daily basis, and at a time in which I was so scared that the pain in my heart was too heavy for others to bear, these special hearts came around me and told me that the pain was too heavy to bear alone... and they carried it with me.  They carried the hope for me.

I am so thankful. So so SOOO thankful.  I am a changed person, becoming more and more the woman God intended, and so much of that growth is a result of the people that God uses everyday to touch and hold and encourage my heart.

God certainly knows what He is doing!

For my gift list this week, I'm listing the people that have played large roles in my life for the past 2 years of grad school.  Disclaimer:  These are NOT the only people have blessed me... these are just the people that are within close proximity.  So, my dear friends and family who may read this and do not live in Wheaton, know that you are not forgotten. :)  Also, all of these pictures (minus one!) were taken in the past whirlwind of a week!

First of all, I could not have picked a more perfect practicum placement for myself.  God opened up this door in amazing ways, and I am so thankful for the people who loved and encouraged me at this site.
Cynthia, a wonderful therapist and Southern Belle at heart
Kelly, a fellow practicum student from a different school and such a blessing to get to know!
Dr. Vander Veer, my very first supervisor ever and someone who has played a HUGE role in my growth over the past year (and this picture was not taken last week...)

Dr. Mills, one of my wonderful supervisors (the lady in blue other than me!).  She has been such an encouraging and wonderful teacher, and I am honored to have served with her.
Anna, one of my closest friends in Wheaton.  It has been such a joy to share the adventure of our first practicum together!  She has been one of my greatest encouragers in the past year.
And Ben, another Wheaton College Psy.D. student, is probably one of the reasons that my practicum has been an adventure!  He is possibly one of the funniest people I know, and he's an extremely gifted therapist.  I'm so glad I've gotten to know him this year!
Linda, the fabulous administrative assistant who helped me procrastinate on a regular basis, and Nurse Mary, the sweetest lady you'll ever meet!
The next set of pictures is from the Psy.D. banquet, which was a celebration of all doctoral students, as well as the professors... especially the ones who are moving on to different places in the next year.  My classmates and professors have served as a constant source of love and encouragement, and I have never been more aware of how God arranged this path for me because He knew where I needed to be at this point in my life... with these amazing people.
Some of my precious cohort members.  They are A-mazing! 
Sarah and Kate, my very first friends in the program.  We bonded in a group project where we were each other's therapists, and we have been close ever since!
Julie, another classmate who lights up my life.  We have to be very careful in class because if we sit together then we are sure to giggle and joke the whole way through.  No one else matches my silliness like this girl!
Alana, another classmate who has an absolute heart of gold!  And she's also pretty silly herself.
Dr. Brian Post, the professor who has impacted my life in so many ways.  He has had such faith in me... and I needed that more than anything at a time when I didn't have faith in myself. 
Ben and Anna again... because I just love 'em!
Saturday was the graduation of my dear classmates with their Master's (I slowed down in the program and didn't get to graduate with them).  It was wonderful to be able to cheer for them and spend more time with these sweet blessings!

Anna, again!
Dr. Derek McNeil... the wisest, most compassionate man in the world.  He has a presence that is larger than life, and there is no doubt in my mind that he has the gift of seeing into souls.  If you ever met him, you would understand.

Lastly, I have to mention my advisor, Dr. Kelly Flanagan.  I somehow managed to miss getting a picture with her this week, but she has prayed with me, listened to me, guided me, and hugged me more times than I can count.  She has been one of God's greatest gifts, coming into my life at the absolute perfect moment as yet another testament to God's perfect timing.

I hope you have people in your life that really hear your heart.  They can be one of the greatest gifts, shining God glory all over your life.