gratitude, #826-843.

826. hearing Alison’s voice on the phone yesterday morning, the afterward-luxury of five minutes’ crying in the women’s restroom stall before my doctor’s appointments

827. the staff at Dr. Lisa Hutto’s office, who are kind-beyond-belief

828. a day full of getting to the bottom of my sicknesses

829. debriefing over tuna sandwiches and Wavy Lays potato chips and coffee at Kenny and Cici’s

830. David and Bridget and Elizabeth, dear friends

831. Hardy and Mary Woods, who make my kids feel special

832. Judah: “I was happy when I Skyped on Joshua, but then I was sad because I missed him.”

833. my son is learning to put words to the sadness that is apart of this not-as-it-should-be world

834. the solace of the downtown public library: my happy place

835. a plethora of new books to be excited about: Food Rules, and A Visit From the Goon Squad, and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, and The Urban Homestead 

836. my husband and I in counseling together, step-by-step learning to love and understand one another in new ways

837. over-the-phone words of love and encouragement from my little brother

838. Oliver reaches for me!

839. Owen: “Julie, will you take me to go pee?”, “Julie, will you get me a drink?”, “Julie, will you take me in the pool?”

840. a.c. for this 108-degree weather

841. a spontaneous weekend trip to visit new friends

842. our family of four, safe and together

843. these bright-eyed goony birds:

gratitude, #804-825.

804. the patter of raindrops on my parents’ deck

805. thick, creamy slices of avocado . . . on salads, on sandwiches, on toast

806. salads and sandwiches and toast

807. an armload of clothes, warm and soft from the dryer

808. humidity and sprinklers and wet grassy feet

809. afternoon nap on a friend’s carpeted living room floor

810. the smell of the library stacks, the luxury of choosing a pile of books I don’t have to finish

811. being in the same time zone

812. Dr. Beaver, who’s been my family doctor since I was fourteen years old and hasn’t changed a bit

813. Josh’s chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven

814. sneaking over to Shari’s for a cup of coffee during naptime

815. blending in

816. a date with my brother, who understands

817. discovering with a start that the cough in my chest I had for a whole year, is gone

818. sitting in morning worship today and the first surge of joy stealing over me

819. realizing that being sick really affects every part of one’s life

820. Amie: “Mommy, thanks for letting us go to church!”

821. Judah: “Mommy, at church I talked to my teachers about God.”

822. the ache of missing our South Asia life

823. the relief of being away from it

824. my husband loves me more than I ever thought possible

825. hope

gratitude, #782-802.

782.  a home to live in with a real roof, real windows, real floors

783. my husband has a job that provides for our family

784. parents who did not force me to marry before I became a teenager

785.  education, the ability to read and write, two jobs where I was treated with dignity

786. choosing my husband, choosing when I wanted to start having babies

787.  never having to leave my children with strangers in front of a television all day while I go to work

788.  never knowing hunger pangs, never suffering from diarrhea and typhoid due to unclean drinking water

789.  I do not have to stand in line at 6 a.m. for my family’s daily supply of water

790.  flush toilets, showers, hot water

791.  a passport

792.  money to buy school books for my son

793.  clothes to wear, shoes to wear, contact lenses, multi-vitamins, allergy medication

794.  I have never had to sell my wedding rings to pay hospital bills.

795.  I have never had to ask strangers for money

796.  a car that our whole family can fit into, with A.C.

797.  a real bed with a frame to sleep on

798.  blankets for cold weather

799. my children have had the experience of eating pizza and ice cream and chocolate many, many times

800.  I don’t have to reuse Amie’s disposable diapers

801.  my family did not disinherit me when I came to faith in Christ

802.  I can worship the Living God in safety


gratitude, #762-781.

762. a nighttime auto ride through the city: happy alone-ness in a sea of people

763. Friday evening with a sweet group of friends . . . sipping hot tea, idea-sharing, and praying together.  Balm for my soul.

764. Maggie’s reminder that we’ve been friends for three years now, and I’m full of wonder at the passage of time, and the gift of a friendship forged in laughter and tears and forgiveness.

765. friends I can be myself with

766. a pantry full of gluten-free food, sent from loved ones in the States

767. gluten-free banana bread for breakfast and a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich for lunch and homemade tomato basil soup and flatbread for dinner . . . comfort food again, at last!

768. Judah, tasting said tomato soup: “I feel like I’m dying.”  Sigh.

769. Judah words: “marvels” (marbles), “that’s a-sgusting!!!” (that’s disgusting), “brek-thiss” (breakfast)

770. Amie words: “yayter” (later), “fays” (toys), “stoop” (scoot), “bax-it” (basket)

771.  Judah’s belly laugh during the first five minutes of the new Winnie-the-Pooh movie

772. these kids, who are alive, who are healthy, who bring us delight every single day

773. a haircut at my favorite salon (thank you, Manoj!):

774.  the puzzle and fun of learning another language

775. “aha” moments that explain some aspect of this culture

776. our teacher, Neetu, feisty and fun, who bucks against traditional views of women in her society and demands more.

777. Priya, who makes language-learning possible (as well as a lot of other things)

778. Priya took care of us all during these last two weeks of sickness

779. sunshine every day in our city

780. coffee is gluten-free

781. this little diva:

thirty things i’m thankful for on my thirtieth birthday.

1.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

2.  I am richly loved.

3.  On my twentieth birthday, I had a crush on this hot guy I went to school with, and on my thirtieth birthday, he’s my husband.

4.  Our firstborn son, Judah Stephen.  Tall for his age, and lanky.  Funny, quirky and confident, he loves people, but needs his alone time, and can occupy himself for hours.  He’s at peace with the person he is and doesn’t have to follow the crowd.  I envy this quality, and hope he never loses it.

5.  Our baby girl, Amelie Claire.  As beautiful and unique as her name, she astonishes me every day with her thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and goofy sense of humor.  She’s our social butterfly, half tomboy and half girly-girl.  I never thought having a daughter could be so much fun.

6.  My husband and children have shown me the depth of my sin and my need for Christ in a way I never imagined.  And this is a good thing.  They bring more meaning and joy to my life than I ever dreamed possible.

7.  Parents who love Jesus deeply, love me deeply, and have supported me in everything I’ve ever done.

8.  Kenny and Danny, who’ve made both my childhood and my life now rich indeed.

9.  A mother and father-in-law who defy all the “in-law” stereotypes.  They are delightful.

10.  Two sisters-in-law and two-brothers-in-law who I’m thrilled to call family.

11.  My niece and nephews, four of my favorite gifts from this decade.

12.  Extended family and extended in-law family, among my best friends in the world.

13.  The gift of getting to serve God overseas.

14.  A long-prayed-for, long-worked-for dream being realized.  All the people who are part of this dream being realized.

15.  The door closed on the hardest year of my life; opening my eyes to see with gratitude that God used it to humble and change me in ways I needed to be humbled and changed.

16.  Our family story will forever include living in this big, loud, vibrant country with people who are so very different and so very dear.

17.  Amazing girl friends who love me in the good times and the bad.  Maybe I could live here without them, but I wouldn’t want to.

18.  Watching my husband work in a job that he loves.

19.  My best friend, David, who inspires me to live my dreams, who gives me space and time and affirmation to figure out who I am in the world.

20.  People back home who miss us.

21.  So many people back home to miss.

22.  A lovely birthday getaway with my husband . . . rolling farmland, exotic birds, hibiscus, and mouth-watering food.  Friends who babysit for birthday getaways and for regular dates with my man.

23.  The gift of being literate.  My Kindle,,, and lots of bookstores in our city.  Books to be discovered all the time.

24.  Josh and Grace, who gave me a new blog and have no idea how much happiness it brings me.

25.  Living in the land of eight dollar pedicures and one dollar lattes.

26.  Wireless Internet, Facebook, Skype, and our Vonage phone—sheer lifelines.

27.  Knowing that I’m right where God wants me to be.

28.  Good health—the wonder of feeling great when I wake up in the morning, the hope that it’ll just keep getting better and better.

29.  Dancing with my kids.

30.  Jesus’ blood never failed me yet/This one thing I know, that he loves me so.

gratitude, #740 – 759.

740. feeling better in time for Christmas week

741. a napping house and hot tea

742. new books to read to the kids

743. a chill in the air

744. my grandfather is feeling better

745. David did a week’s worth of grocery shopping yesterday

746. Bamburies, a dream of a meat shop where we can even buy prosciutto

746. cooking in my kitchen with the windows wide open

747. exchanging recipes with friends

748. friends who inspire me to be creative with my kids

749. coming up with a plan to help fill our days

750.  endless good ideas on the internet

751. Judah searching out letters and trying to sound them out

752. finishing Middlemarch, loving the way it ended

753. David’s guy camping trip this week

754. I feel safe in our new apartment while he travels

755. neighbors who would drop everything to help us

756. regular date nights, thanks to our babysitting co-op with the Worshams

757. Judah words: “Corder-boy” (Corduroy), Converson-al Studios (Universal Studios), “art-verk” (art work)

758. Amie words: “Dag” (Dad), “Bam-pa” (Grandpa), “ahht-vohhk” (art work)

759. Swiss Miss mint hot chocolate packets, sent from home

gratitude, #711-739.

711. Mom and Dad Gentino in our South Asia world

712. Suitcases full of books and Christmas presents

713. Chocolate chips and maple syrup and Starbucks Thanksgiving blend

714. Our homey apartment

715. Space to breathe

716. The wonder of real bathtubs and a real oven

717. A chance to appreciate things I never thought to appreciate before

718. Trading Hindu temple music for the Muslim call to prayer

719. Lilly, who eases my load

720. Our tilty, patchy fake Christmas tree

721. Christmas music on

722. Kurta shopping on Commercial Street with Linda

723. Lalbagh Botanical Gardens . . . an oasis of green

724. My two new house plants

725. A Christmas poinsettia for our balcony

726. Seeing John and Alison and the boys settled in their new home

727. Our date night babysitting co-op

728. Friends to explore our neighborhood with

729. Tasty new restaurants . . . Ocea, Fanoo’s, and Green Theory (and we only saw a rat in one of them)

730. Living in a Muslim neighborhood where beef is plentiful

731. Thomas and Mary, Sadiq, Farheen . . . new friends

732. Anu, Deepakshi, Arvind, Maria . . . old friends come to visit

733. Homemade pumpkin spice lattes

734. My first chicken shawarma

735. Judah thinks his Grandpa can fix anything

736. Laugher and Phase 10 around the dining room table last night

737. A spur-of-the-moment cappuccino date with my husband

738. Gathering around the candlelight for advent

739. Too many gifts to count

gratitude # 690-710.

690. two mornings out this week and time alone to sit and breathe, thanks to my mom

691. a stack of new books to read

692. Barbara Kingsolver and Wendell Berry: just exquisite

693. treats brought from home … Skittles, M&M’s, brown sugar, vanilla extract, Goldfish, Seattle’s Best coffee, Sunmaid raisins …

694. dear friends who sent cards and letters and gifts for Judah and Amelie

695. showing my mom around our neighborhood

696. watching my mom chat and laugh and get to know my friends

697. Elizabeth Gaskell movie marathons every night this week while David’s out of town

698. David got to go to Turkey!

699.  and he’s coming home tonight!

700. Judah to Colleen: “My daddy wrestles with me all the time.”

701. two kids who miss their dad like crazy

702. homemade bagels with “crem cheese”

703. cuddly baby Ada, who fills us all with delight

704. South Asian neighbors who cook food for my mom to try

705. introducing my mom in a culture where parents are honored and cherished

706. hot masala tea on the balcony

707. an afternoon at the mall: coffee, kids happy on the playground, my mom’s first bumpy auto rickshaw rides

708. Colleen, who dropped and picked Judah and Annie from school every day this week while the guys were gone

709. my mom’s encouragement in the exhausting everydayness of motherhood

710. my dad, who sent her to us

gratitude #673 – 689.

673. piling in the car for a family trip to the doctor

674. Judah “taking the break of school” to be with us today

675. toys and cartoons in the hospital waiting room

676. a new doctor for me to try

677. McDonald’s right next to the hospital: sitting eating chicken nuggets and fries in the cool breeze of the patio

678. visits from Maggie and Colleen and Deepakshi which brighten my day; their offerings of red flowers and cookies and dinner

679. finishing Bleak House on my Kindle and wanting to start at the beginning again

680. Charles Dickens, whom I never get tired of

681. books to keep me company in the long hours

682. phone calls from my mom

683. learning to make Deepakshi’s jeera rice

684. neighbors who are concerned about us

685. Amie’s new nickname for me: “Moms”

686. an at-home date with David tonight: cookies, a movie, and Phase 10

687. keeping our sense of humor

688. “It’s in praising a Savior in all things that we are saved from discouragement in all things . . . Doesn’t it always come down to just two ways to do life?  Do doxology — or do destruction.” – Ann Voskamp

689. knowing I’m right where I am supposed to be