Saturday, December 31, 2011

What to Give to Someone Who Saved Your Life

Ryan (that's my husbands name) and I have shower dates. No, I don't make him attend baby and bridal showers with me (I wouldn't do that to an enemy). We shower together, you know get clean. It's one of the few times throughout our day that we can spend time together and talk (and accomplish other important tasks). I'm a big fan of multi-tasking, so it's great. By the way, if this is too risque for you, then please never read my blog again, WE ARE MARRIED FOR PETE'S SAKE.

Anyway, it was a Friday night, and on this particular shower date we were, amongst other things, discussing what we needed to prepare for potluck at church the next day.

I got this picture from Pinterest

Me: "Where did the pie in the fridge come from?" (I was astonished that Ryan could possibly want more pie after devouring two Costco size pies earlier in the week. Why this shocks me, after 5 years of marriage, is yet to be determined.)
Ryan: "The Fire Station." (Ryan is a very active volunteer at our local fire/ems station.) 
Me: "Why did you get a pie from the fire station? Don't the guys want it??"
Ryan: "Because they were going to throw it away."
Me: "Why? Is it old? RYAN!!!...." 
Ryan: "Because they get tons of that sort of thing this time of year." 
Me: "Where does it come from?" (I'm thinking about at the office where stuff like that comes from drug reps, coworkers, patients, pharmacies, etc)
Ryan: "It usually comes from people that we've helped out. You know, saved their house from burning down. Or, saved their lives. People like that."
Me: "Oh. That makes sense." (Because naturally, one should give pies for their life being saved from death.)

So then I got to thinking (not in the shower but later), "What would I give someone for saving my life?" They would obviously receive a card. I would probably write about them here on my blog. And I would definitely mention it on Facebook and Twitter. But then what? Should I name my first child after them? Gosh, I sure hope their name wouldn't be Kermit (no offense to the Kermits out there). I just don't know where I'd even begin to thank someone for saving my life... so I guess an apple pie is as good as anything.

Then I really got to thinking (scary I know). How do I thank Jesus for saving my life? Seriously. Can't say that I have ever sent him a card. I mention Him frequently on Facebook and Twitter. His name even comes up on Pinterest. I don't think I will name my children after Him, but my children will certainly be raised with Him. There are many other ways I try to thank my Savior, but they all seem to pale in comparison to what He has done (and continues to do) for me in my life.

Today at church my friend Jerry gave an inspiring sermon on Matthew 26:6-13 6 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. 7 While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. 8 The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. 9 “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? 11 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. 12 She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” 

That's how one woman expressed her thanks to her Savior. There's noble things I could suggest like, "Give Jesus my heart" or "Surrender myself to him" or "Live my life for Jesus, as an expression of thanks" but again, these all pale in comparison. I could also sacrifice my own life; no comparison. Follow all the rules... nah still not good enough.

That's the beauty of a God who is love. All I have to do is accept His gift of saving my life. There is nothing I could ever do to thank Him for that gift. And like any good gift, I can use it any way I want....

"Dear Jesus, I love you and I am so thankful you know my heart to know exactly how thankful I am. Please show me the best way to use the gift of life that you have given me. In your name and for your sake. Amen."

Also... Happy New Year! Have fun and be safe tonight!!! I'd hate for Ryan to end up with another pie from the fire station!

How are you planning on using Jesus' gift in 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 4 Things of What NOT to Do When the Power Goes Out @ Work

The power went out at work on the last working day of the year. Ironic? Perhaps.  Some said the power outage was due to a blown transformer box, while others said it was caused by a telephone pole that fell over. I still have no idea what caused the outage. But I DO know what NOT to do when the power goes out at work.

I work at a growing doctors office. All of our charting is done on computers, which *surprise* requires electricity. We also need some sort of internet connection (it might be called something else, not really sure) to chart, which also requires electricity.

***For the record: I am very thankful for my job. I work at one of the best places in my small "city" (if not THE BEST).***

Now without further ado; here are the top 4 things of what NOT to do when the power goes out at work:

4. Eat. I pretty much eat all day long at work. I eat more when I am at work than I do when not at work. (Feel free to psychoanalyze this behavior pattern and get back to me with what you come up with.) When the provider that I work for and I weren't really sure what to do with ourselves, because there was at least 20 minutes until our next patient, she couldn't chart, I couldn't call patients or fill prescriptions etc... I proudly proclaimed, "I know what I can do!" She replied with a not-too-excited "What?" Me, about to jump up and down "Eat! I could eat!" Off to the break-room I went. I arrived at the break room and realized I needed some sort of light to see what the hay I was doing. So back to my desk to get my cell phone to use as a flashlight, and then back to the break-room. It went like this: Retrieve cereal I keep in cupboard; check! Open refrigerator, and be surprised that the refrigerator light didn't come on, and then retrieve rice milk; check! Make a small mess trying to pour cereal in cup and hold flashlight  cell phone at the same time; check! Go back to workstation and eat cereal, check! Disappointed that this only took maybe 5 or 6 minutes, check!

3. Get excited. What's wrong with excitement you ask? Usually nothing but it's probably not a good idea to be excited with anticipation of going home a bit early on you last working day of the year (which by the way was a Friday Dec, 30. Friday folks). If you don't get excited, you won't be disappointed when the electricity is restored.

2. Bible verses. Contemplate all the different Bible verses that apply to light and darkness. There's gotta be at least a hundred verses. Genesis 1:3 "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." Then derive several different spiritual lessons from the verses combined with the experience and think multiple times "I could write a blog post about this!"

And now.... drum roll please.... the long awaited number one thing to NOT do when the power goes out at work:

1. 80s music. Come up with random 80s songs (or even better, songs from the 70s) that fit the situation and share them with others (mostly your close friends that you work with) and then precede to sing them so that they are stuck in your head for days to come. And for your listening pleasure, I have generously included them below (you can thank me later, cards appreciated):

I can't take credit for "Sunglasses at Night" my amigo Jordan came up with that one all on her own.

The power outage was quite the learning experience (as you may have noticed by now). We did see patients in the dark and did a bit of charting the old fashion way. The power was out for somewhere between 30 & 60 minutes. In retrospect, next time I'm going to be more proactive in convincing my provider that "We got this! If providers can see patients in Zimbabwe, then we can totally see patients without electricity and computers!" 

May the light be with you! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How Smashing Your Finger Can Be a Smashing Good Time (Well Kinda)

My middle finger on my left hand is throbbing as I type this post, more on that in just a bit. 

Today has just been one of those days. It's been at least a month and a half of very irregular sleeping patterns. This past week I keep finding myself in at the cookie tray and this time of year there are cookie trays everywhere.

Cookies on break room table at work!
 I have end-of- the-year book keeping to do, over priced textbooks to buy, get-aways to plan,  and a gym that I need to visit more regularly. And to make matters worse, I applied no make-up (not even mascara) and I did nothing with my hair before coming to work today (in fact it was still damp from my shower when I got to work) so I felt extra blah all day. Plus I've been experiencing......

.... you get the drift... it has been a day where a broken record of complaining played over and over in my head.

At least that was the case until I smashed my middle finger on my left hand in the patient examination table at the doctors office I work at.
I smashed my finger while changing the paper on the examination table.

And then I had one of these moments:

And suddenly the broken record in my head stopped. A surge went through my body and I could feel the blood circulating in my toes and up my legs and back to my pulsating finger. I was not-so-gently reminded that I was alive. Amazingly, my broken record of complaining turned into more of a thankful praise worship session. It really is amazing what a smashed finger can do. (But kids, don't try this at home. It really hurts).

What is up with that anyway? Why does it take pain, suffering, or discomfort to make us come alive? {Sure, that isn't always the case... but it is often .} I think the answer remains in where I went in the 72 seconds of extreme pain. I didn't run to the doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or nurses that I work with. Nor did I run to the drug closet for a ibuprofen.  I didn't even run to my amazing friends (I'm blessed to work with three of my close friends). 

Instead I instantly ran (figuratively) to my Heavenly Father. I run to my Heavenly Father for all kinds of things but unfortunately I run to him the most when I'm experiencing some sort of trial. Actually maybe that isn't unfortunate maybe that's a really good thing... 

As it turns out, I'm not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon (that pain can be a really good thing):
~Michael Hyatt "Why Discomfort Is Good For You" and "The Blessing of Discomfort"
~Angie Smith "In The Clouds"

What trial(s) are you thankful for? Why?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Best Investment This World Has Ever Known

What are you investing in these days? I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan. I listen to his radio show while paying bills or while completing our monthly budget or while doing book keeping for our business, Y Bar Construction. I follow Ramsey on Twitter and have read his books. My husband and I have even taught Financial Peace University at our church and he made our Christmas letter this year. He explains financial management in such a way that a sixth grader could understand him. If I were given millions tomorrow, I would know exactly what to do with it, following Ramsey's Baby Steps.

Ramsey's plan is great and it (when actually put to use) has the power to change lives and family trees. But what if I told you that I have an even better and more powerful investment strategy?  

I decided over eight years ago to invest everything I am or ever will be, all my worth into one single....

(....wait for it.....

here it comes....

...are you ready.... this is good...

...changes lives...

...produces the highest yields this world has ever known....)

I decided to invest everything I am or ever will be, all my worth into one single...... baby boy born in a manger.

Often times folks will call into Ramsey's radio show and doubt his advice to invest their money in good growth stock mutual funds. The callers think his advice is crazy considering our economy these past few years. Then Ramsey just recounts what his investments have done for him. It may not convince the caller but his testimony certainly convinces me (or maybe its his lake house that convinces me, just kidding); like I said, I know exactly where I'm going to invest our money once we are out of debt etc. 

Now investing in a God that came to this planet in the form of a baby boy, born to a poor *VIRGIN* girl, in a manger of all places... may sound crazy considering science or logic... or our world today, but I'm banking on this baby boy. It's all or nothin' for me. And of course, it doesn't seem crazy to me because I know what this investment has done for me. And like Ramsey, my most powerful persuasive tool is my testimony. 

Of course I'm tempted to share my testimony and tell my readers across the world what Jesus has done for me... how he has done more in me and for me these past eight years, than millions or even billions of dollars ever could, but I'll refrain (perhaps in a different post someday). Because my investment plan can actually be summed up in one word: LOVE. 
Love came down in the form of a baby boy. Love died on the cross for you and me. Love is waiting patiently for every human being to choose (or not choose) love. Love changed me and is still changing me. Love saved me. If you have ever been touched by Love, then you have been touched by the hand of God. God is love (I can't say it enough) see 1 John.

I've never met anyone that didn't believe Love was worth investing in. I imagine that Dave Ramsey would recommend this investment strategy too. Today I invite you to invest in Love... Today I invite you to celebrate the day Love was born in a manger!

***Happy Birthday Jesus, King of my heart and this universe! I love you!!!***

I think I'll go party now... Merry Christmas! And Love Bless (God Bless)!!!!! <3 

How are you celebrating Jesus' birthday?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Honest Christmas Letter

       I can't help but think of the Dunbar Family when I think of Christmas letters. The Dunbar Family that I'm referring to is from an episode on This American Life. Julia Sweeney reads an annual Christmas letter from the Dunbars.... It's a very funny episode if you enjoy sarcasm or dark humor. Here's an audio clip from the episode I'm referring to: 

The other type of Christmas letter that comes to mind is the infamous BRAG LETTER. You know the type; we've all read them... and by the end of the letter you can't help but wonder what planet they are from, because no one else you know has that much to brag about.

We are going to attempt to land our Christmas letter somewhere in between the dysfunctional "Dunbar's" and the nauseating "Mr. and Mrs. Brag". Here goes nothin'....

Dear Family, Friends, and Random Strangers that Read this Blog,                            
                  This is our first ever Christmas letter! I'm not the biggest fan of letters of this breed but we thought we'd do things a bit different this year. We are, however,  big Dave Ramsey fans and in true Dave Ramsey fashion we are cinching the "purse strings" in every way possible as we pay off our debt (we're down to just 35K!!!). So instead of sending 300-400 Christmas cards via snail mail, we are delivering 400+ "Christmas Letters" via email (or via other social media mediums). There are a few little old ladies that will be an exception to this new-state-of-the-art way of doing business. So consider yourself young and cutting-edge if you aren't an exception!
      Young or old.. snail mail or email... family, friend, or stranger.... our gift... our prayer... for *YOU* this Christmas remains the same...
May you have the HOPE of being reunited with your loved ones that passed away this year or years past. May you look forward to a time when our bodies will be made anew... free of age, injury, or disease.  

*Hebrews 11:1, NKJV. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

*Romans 8:24-25, NKJV. "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."
Romans 5:3-5, NKJV. "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
I Thessalonians 4:13-14
, NKJV. " But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."

Titus 1:2, NKJV. "in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,"

Titus 2:13, KJV. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ"

Take that leap of FAITH (you know, the one you've been too scared to take)! This too, is our prayer for *YOU*! We promise you won't regret it. May your eyes remain focused on our loving Saviour... because walking on water isn't over rated... and this world.... yeah it's soooo over rated.

Hebrews 11:1, TLB. "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead."


"...And the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). Often times it is in our best interest to simply LET GO, but love is something you want to get a hold of and grasp firmly. The beauty of love is that it is in constant pursuit of *YOU* but it can only catch you if you let it. So our prayer is that you let love catch and carry you... then once caught, hold on tight and *NEVER EVER* let go. By the way God is love (1 John). >>>Try replacing the word love with God in this paragraph.<<< LET LOVE TAKE OVER... YOU!

We wish you a CRAZY-HAPPY-JOYFUL-FUN-LOVE_FEST-JOLLY-MERRY Christmas... after all Birthdays are meant to be celebrated!!!

God is love,
Vanessa and Ryan

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Evolution of Us

Christmas is just a few days away! I can't believe it! I'm blaming the lack of snow that exists here in Eastern Oregon for my lack of jolly Christmas spunk. Jolly or not, my favorite part of the Christmas season is the exchange of Christmas cards. Which comes at no surprise; especially if you read my post about my card/stationary addiction.

Ryan and I decided to do Christmas a little different this year, but before we share our season greetings for 2011... I thought it'd be fun to see our evolution of Christmas card pictures from the past few years...

This picture was taken at my grandma's house. I was 20 and Ryan was 25. Aren't we young and in love??? We still are by the way!

This was the back of our picture. Simple and sweet. <3

I can't really remember what we did for Christmas cards in 2006...
but I'm pretty sure it involved these pictures!

In 2007 we used Shutterfly to create our Christmas card. We included the following pictures and a quote that is good enough to share again here, "To those we love & see each day & other loved ones far away... To all good friends who mean so much & those with whom we're out of touch... To folks who are so good & kind it's easy to keep them in mind... To people we keep close at heart even when we are apart... We sent to you this wish sincere for a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!"

This picture was taken the day we adopted Poco Bear.
On a hike to one of my favorite lakes, Van Patten.
This was taken the same day of my Grandpa's funeral. I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to have a picture taken after crying all day. We are in front of my grandparents fireplace in their basement. 

In 2008 we used a card from Leanin' Tree.  You can click here to see the exact card that we used. It has been my favorite card so far. The greeting inside the card read "It wouldn't seem like Christmas if we couldn't get in touch and wish the Season's Blessings to those we like so much!" The card allowed us to put captions with the pictures. The captions you read here are the same as they were on the card 3 years ago (I realize I'm the biggest card nerd; I'm ok with that).
No caption because this pic was on the front of the card.
Ryan spent this year's father's day windsurfing w/ his Dad @ Thief Valley.

This picture was taken @ our friend's wedding. What a fun weekend! It's hard to believe  it has been over 2 years since our day!
It's nice to remember that warmer months are ahead... this picture was taken @ Vanessa's mother's home in AZ.
What would be do without God's awesome creatures? This year we deiced to give Poco a hair cut to help him deal with the summer heat. Isn't he handsome? Ike is our newest addition to our family... there is a reason why a hurricane was named after him this year! 

2009 was apparently my year of indecision. I couldn't decide on just a few pictures and I couldn't decide on just one type of card, so different folks got different cards with different pictures. And some people got multiple cards; one for Christmas and one for New Years (at least I can admit that I'm addicted). I purchased my photo cards from Blessings Unlimited that year. There were no captions with the pictures so I'll just add my own now...
Ryan was voted Firefighter of the year.
It's amazing how much critters can grow in a year!

Photo taken by: Photos by Lisa Edited by me.

Carly Carlson Photography 
Carly Carlson Photography

I was also indecisive in 2010. I attempted to keep it simpler last year but... well you know... ok you probably don't know... let's just say... ITS AN ADDICTION! One of the cards that we used last year can be found at WalMart. The others were... one of a kind....
Ryan and I stopped at Deadwood Outfitters for a day of their flyfishing clinic. I hope we can make to Deadwood in 2012!
Jenny Jimenez photography

Jenny Jimenez Photography
Jenney Jimenez took this picture at my best friend Eun's wedding. Click on this link to get a glimpse of Eun's beautiful wedding and Jenny's awesome photography.

Thanksgiving 2010.

Our caption for this was: Ryan says "This is what happens when you turn 30." I say, "This is what happens when your husband turns 30."


I guess you'll have to wait and see....  it's ok if you lose sleep over this... I understand!

What is your favorite tradition of the season? Do you send out Christmas cards? If so, how many? We send between 300-400 each year.