Tag: Thanksgiving

Day Twenty-Two: I’m Thankful For…Food (and plenty of it).

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/22/12 (with slight changes made today).

I don’t take for granted the fact that I have plenty of food to eat, each and every day. After spending time in countries where poverty is the norm, my perspective was forever changed about the wealth that we experience in the United States. It is truly heart-breaking that so many around the world will have nothing to eat tonight while we had more than enough…but I’m thankful that God has provided for Brennan and I, just the same.

Along those lines, I’m thankful for organizations such as World Vision that allow us the privilege of sponsoring children, which ensures that they do have food to eat (among other things).

I’m also thankful for the variety of food choices that God has given us…He could have simply created us to eat grass and we would have never known the difference. But He chose to bless us and allow us to experience vastly different flavors and textures. He created food to be so colorful! He gave us a piece of his creative ability so that we could be creative with food and develop new dishes. I love that He has so richly blessed us in even the smallest of ways.

Thank you, Lord, for food…

Day Twenty-One: I’m Thankful For…Traveling.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/21/12 (with slight changes made today).

One of my greatest passions is traveling and exploring God’s beautiful and wondrous creation.

God has blessed me with opportunities to travel to three continentssix countries, and thirty-eight states in my first thirty-one years of life.

I love experiencing new cultures…learning from them…enjoying them…photographing them.

There’s a whole lot of the world left to see (including Guatemala in February!), and I can’t wait to experience it with Brennan!

So thankful that God has created such a diverse world for us to enjoy…

Day Twenty: I’m Thankful For…My Pennsylvania Family.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/20/12 (with slight changes made today).

I came to Pennsylvania for the first time eleven years ago. I came as a “summer missionary” to serve in Williamsport, PA for ten weeks. It was my first time traveling east of the Mississippi and I was excited, but a little nervous at the same time: I left Southern California having little idea of what to expect, but I was armed with plenty of stereotypes that had been fed to me by friends. Thankfully, most of those stereotypes were proven to be incorrect (i.e. “everyone’s Amish there!”) and I had a fabulous summer.

I remember the first night in Williamsport so well. I spent time with the pastor and his family while I waited for the couple with whom I would be living to arrive. A terrible storm had come through earlier and the power had been out for a while in much of Williamsport. When we got to the house that would be my home for the summer (and the next summer), it was dark, raining, and we had to use candles and flashlights (so I felt like we were Amish!). I got to spend a couple of hours talking with Toby and Susan, and I met Cheyenne briefly…little did I know that these wonderful people would become my “Pennsylvania Family” 🙂

I lived with them for two summers and have stayed in touch with them ever since. They flew to California to be there for our wedding, which meant so much to us. Toby and Susan love Jesus and they have been such an encouragement and support to me/us over the past decade. I cannot thank God enough for allowing me to live with them and to know them. They helped my two summers of ministry be successful in so many ways.

God has always been faithful with placing people in my life who are great role models, who live out their faith genuinely, and who love others abundantly, and Toby and Susan are two of the greatest examples of those things in my life. 🙂

Day Nineteen: I’m Thankful For…Reliable Transportation.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/19/12 (with slight changes made today).

I’m so very thankful that we have two reliable vehicles for which we have paid completely!

Like Dave Ramsey says, you don’t “have” to have a car payment your entire life!

Our cars may not be new or pretty, but they function properly and that is all that matters. 🙂

We are SO thankful that God has kept them running so well throughout our journey to become debt-free!

Day Eighteen: Brennan is Thankful For…Loyalty.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/18/12 (with slight changes made today).

Since I (Lesa) wrote the first seventeen, I asked Brennan if he’d like to contribute anything…and he said yes!  So here’s a post from him…

As I think of some of the more significant times in my life, a lot of them revolve around the aspect of loyalty: people loyal to me and me loyal to them. It is often an overlooked character trait. I know for a fact that if it weren’t for some very loyal friends and family in my life, there is no way I would be as successful or even as happy as I am now.

To start, I would say that my best friend Jeremy has been by far the most loyal friend I’ve ever had. This is not to say that I haven’t had other very loyal friends, but Jeremy takes the cake. He has been as good a friend as he has been a mentor to me for over 18 years. There were a few occasions where I was in a tough spot, whether it would be spiritually, emotionally or whatever, that would send people running for the hills leaving me to figure it out and endure on my own or fall flat on my face. Jeremy was there to lend a hand, pick me up, listen or whatever I asked until I overcame. I, in turn, have done the same for him which I think has strengthened our friendship. Some may think this is a “duh” statement, but I mention it because I have seen too many people engaged in friendships where both parties think they have each other’s back only to find out this is not so. That has never been the case with Jeremy. No matter if we were 15 minutes or 6 hours apart (yes, these distances are accurate), we have always made ourselves available to talk or simply hang out. Aside from our wives, we are each other’s “go-to” people.

Speaking of wives, mine is simply the best. Yeah, I know, all husbands are somehow obligated to say this…except that I actually mean it and believe it. My wife, Lesa, has been by my side from Day–1 no matter how much of a bonehead I’ve been, no matter how grumpy I’ve been, and definitely no matter how crazy I’ve been (good crazy too 🙂 ) She always values my opinion and respects the decisions I make, even if it can possibly end in failure. She is the epitome of a godly wife that I have always longed for and she daily shows me the loyalty that we both swore to each other on our wedding day. I in turn show the same type of loyalty, and one part of that is by resisting the temptations of this world that I’ve seen other men fall into. I simply won’t allow it because of the love and respect I’ve promised to show her all the days of our lives.

In a world where loyalty is a lost character trait, I value it at the top. This is because of the importance of it and the impact it can make in people’s lives. It’s made incredible differences in my life and will continue to do so, I’m sure. Like most other things in life, you get what you put into it. It’s a give and take trait. All give and no take, and visa a versa, leads to heartache and disappointment; and that’s something I do not wish to deal with or do unto anyone else.

Day Seventeen: I’m Thankful For…Mystery Shopping.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/17/12 (with slight changes made today).

In early 2011 I began mystery shopping, and it has been such a blessing to us.

It all started when Brennan came home and mentioned that the Hotel Hershey had been evaluated by mystery shoppers from Forbes/AAA recently and they had just received their scores. I couldn’t believe that someone could get paid to get a massage! 🙂 I was familiar with the concept of mystery shopping because my mom and grandma had done it when I was younger; so, I decided to look into it for myself and have found it to be a really fun hobby!

Since March 2011, I have completed 460+ shops.

Mystery shopping provides us with abundant “free” date nights. We can mystery shop movie theaters, tons of restaurants (ranging from fast food to fancy), hotelssporting eventsconcerts, etc. This has been such a blessing to us because we strive to live as frugally as possible and this allows us to still “date” each other frequently (which is very important)!

On the practical side, we hardly ever pay for oil changes, brake inspections, shipping packages, etc. anymore. There are so many ways to get paid for things you need to do anyway! This has saved us so much money in the past three years!

Mystery shopping is challenging and requires a lot of detailed observations; but, once you get the hang of it you develop a system. Brennan is a great help on these shops because he can help me remember the details when it’s time to enter the shop into the system and he really enjoys it as well.

Finally, mystery shopping has been a way for me to bring extra income to the table which has allowed us to pay off our debt so much faster. Since I only work part-time currently, it has made me feel like I am contributing to our family finances more, which I love.

I’m very thankful that God has provided this opportunity for us to datelive frugally, and have fun through mystery shopping!

(To read more about how to get into mystery shopping on your own, read this post.)

Day Sixteen: I’m Thankful For…Grandparents.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/16/12 (with slight changes made today).

I realize that I already posted about being thankful for “family”…but I feel that my grandparents deserve their own post.

I am SO blessed to still have all four of my grandparents living and healthy. All of them were at our wedding, which was a lifelong prayer of mine. All of them still live in Northern California and are still happy and active. Each of them are special to me for different reasons. All four of them have such incredible wisdom and life experience to share!

I am also blessed to have known two of my great-grandparents very well…my great-grandma Vera was part of my daily life until I was 18. That woman was strong until the end. She was still raking her own leaves and mowing her own lawn at 88 years old. Oh how I miss her. She was so much fun to talk to and she always had the best stories to tell us. Our annual family reunions are gatherings of her family–she had 7 brothers and sisters. My great-grandpa Irvin passed away when I was 9. It is from him that I received my musical ability: that man could play any instrument with strings! They were married over 60 years, and they were two of the godliest, most talented and loving people I’ve ever known.

Grandparents are such a gift and I am SO thankful to know mine so well!

Day Fifteen: I’m Thankful For…Clean Water.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/15/12 (with slight changes made today).

I grew up drinking tap water that tasted better than any bottled water out there. We had no fear of getting sick from the water, nor did we fear a lack of water, even in drought-ridden California.

It wasn’t until I was an exchange student in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1999 that I realized that not everyone has access to clean water. While we were there, we had to be extremely careful to not allow any tap water to enter our mouths–not even while brushing out teeth. (Granted, the people who live in Guadalajara can drink it with no problem because their bodies are used to the parasites can that exist in the water; however, our American bodies would not cope so well with those foreign objects in our systems, so we avoided it.) That was my first experience with not being able to drink tap water.

It was in Haiti that I first fully grasped the enormity and severity of not having clean water. We were surrounded by people who were using filthy water to wash their clothes, and I’m really not sure where they got their drinking water. It was heartbreaking. There was a huge Cholera outbreak that was related to the water supply, causing even more deaths in the damaged country.

The U.N. estimates that 2.6 billion people live without access to an adequate supply of clean water. They also estimate that a child dies every 20 seconds from lack of clean water/diseases caused by dirty water. It is incredible to me that in the year 2012 there are still millions of people dying each year from something that is easily prevented!

That is why organizations like Humankind Water and Blood:Water Mission (and many others) are so important! Both of these organizations work to build/dig wells in places where clean water doesn’t exist. Humankind Water recently won a contest to be on the shelves at Walmart and their bottles are currently in 200 stores on the East Coast (Harrisburg and Palmyra have them, local readers!). ALL of their profits go to building wells to provide access to clean water. Blood:Water Mission focuses primarily on Africa and has had a tremendous impact there. Both of these organizations are worth your support! $1 gives 1 person access to clean water for 1 year!

Please don’t take your abundant access to clean water for granted…and do what you can to help others have the same access. 🙂

Day Fourteen: I’m Thankful For…Four Seasons.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/14/12 (with slight changes made today).

After living in Southern California (i.e. the land of eternal summer) for seven years, I was (and still am) enamored by the distinct seasons that Pennsylvania offers. I love the transitions that happen between each season. I love the variety of colors that God gives us to enjoy.

I appreciate each season for different reasons:

Winter, for the opportunity to rest while the ground is frozen and the air is frigid…

Spring, for the wonder of watching the earth come back to life and for the colors that bloom…I have learned to appreciate Spring more than ever before because Winter feels so very long at times.

Summer,  for the adventure, the warmth and the lush green trees that cover Pennsylvania…

Fall, for the beautiful, glorious transition into Winter, giving us a month or so of beauty before the bleak sets in…

We serve such a glorious, creative, loving God who has created all of these things for our enjoyment and wonder…just another way that He shows the world that He exists and that He loves us.

Day Thirteen: I’m Thankful For…Azusa Pacific University.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/13/12 (with slight changes made today).

I believe that I went to the most amazing university in existence. 🙂

Azusa Pacific University - A Christian University in Los Angeles, California

When I was a sophomore/junior in high school I began sifting through the dozens of college brochures and packets that had been sent to me. I knew that I wanted to go to a Christian school, but which one was the right one? I began to pray that God would make it abundantly clear where He wanted me to do because the options were daunting.

One day the information from Azusa Pacific University caught my eye. I don’t remember what specifically it was (given that this happened over ten years ago!), but something caught my interest. Then, later that summer while at youth camp, I was talking with a friend of mine who happened to be starting at APU that fall! He told me more about their top-quality music program, the climate/culture on campus, and I was hooked. I began talking to an admissions counselor and began to be very excited.

In March of my junior year I found out about a “welcome weekend” (can’t remember what it was called) where I could go down and spend the weekend in the dorms, audition for choir, and explore the campus. I asked my parents a week or two beforehand if we could go down and thankfully they said yes! We made the 523 mile drive from Red Bluff to Azusa and that’s where it all began. From the minute that I set foot on campus I KNEW that this was where God wanted me to go.

That weekend I met my future roommate, Allison, as well as several other friends who are still part of my life. I heard the choirs (and fell in LOVE), I explored the beautiful campus, and I experienced dorm life. This was it. I didn’t apply to any other schools!

I made another visit that fall (2000) to audition for choir and the Vocal Performance program (which was my declared major at the time). I was offered a scholarship for choir and made it into the Vocal Performance program. I ultimately did not pursue a Vocal Performance degree, but instead chose Political Science and American History (why? I have no idea, since I have no interest in a political career anymore, but it is where God led me).

After spending the summer of 2001 in Sacramento interning for a lobbying firm, I headed down to Azusa that August. My friend Allison and I had decided to room together and we applied early enough to get into our preferred dorm: Engstrom Hall. I was able to move in two weeks early because of choir camp, and Allison was there early for soccer. Oh, the adventures that the two of us had. 🙂

And that was just the beginning. I was placed in an incredible “wing” of the dorm and love those ladies to this day! We learned so much from each other and we experienced so much together–namely September 11, 2001 and the changes that brought to our world. I never doubted that God wanted me to be there!

My four years at APU were truly some of the best years of my life. I was enriched and challenged in so many areas: faith, friendship, intellect, culture, travel, music, etc. I met some of the most amazing, loyal, brilliant people there and I am so thankful for their presence in my life.

Chapel was never a chore. What a privilege it was to worship three (or four, if I went on Wednesday night) times a week with thousands of fellow believers, led by incredible musicians whose hearts were focused on God…what a privilege to learn from some of the most incredible teachers in the country (Francis ChanJohn Piper, etc.) in person, week after week. Our campus pastor for three of my years there was Chris Brown, a man who impacted my life more than I can say. It took us three years to go through the book of Mark on Wednesday nights, but I wouldn’t have changed that for anything. He made the Bible come alive like no other pastor I’ve heard before. Who could forget “Demon Dan?” I still have my Bible that is filled with notes in the margins from the wisdom (and humor) this man had.

I’m especially thankful for my mentor during those college years: Scott. I met Scott through my (much-coveted) job at the Marshburn Memorial Library. He and I formed an instant friendship that I still treasure today. He was one of the librarians that I worked for and he never tired of my questions (ranging from “where did the dinosaurs go?” to topics like Libertarianism). Scott is well-informed in politics and history so our discussions were never-ending. He always had wisdom to offer when I was dealing with struggles with other people, political topics, etc. and his unique sense of humor could always brighten my day. His family really welcomed me in and it has been so fun to watch his children grow up. So thankful for him and for the investment that he/they made in my life.

Jane is another “library person” for whom I am so thankful. She was like a “mom” to all of the student workers in the library and we all loved her! From advice to practical assistance, she was always there: for example, when I had my second-degree sunburn in 2004, she helped me put aloe vera on my back daily to ensure that I was comfortable while at work. 🙂 We’re still in contact today and it’s wonderful!

APU is truly a God-centered university with so many opportunities for their students. The professors know how to both challenge and encourage their students. Their sports program is one of the best in the world (Bryan Clay STILL works with the coaching staff for his Olympic training program!). Their music program is truly one of the best in the world and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from my choir director and voice teacher. Their missions program is DEFINITELY one of the best in the world and I am so thankful for the training that I received there.

Most importantly, Azusa Pacific University puts God First in everything and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn/live there. What a privilege.