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Good Things the Seventeenth, November 2018

Hey! I missed this. I never posted it on December 1, for good things from November. I did have the list. Here it is now, one good thing for every day from November. I get to still say #blamethecancer because, well, I’ve still got it and still got foggy brain, too.

1 soup. hot soup from my dear friend. And an orange. I can’t talk to even say thank you. That’s why she brought soup. So, now, thank you.

2 sleeping with a big fluffy cat on top of my legs

3 resting with my mother-in-law while the men went hunting (I am so thankful for my in-laws, doubly so during cancer, they have been wonderful)

4 fresh venison on the grill

5 one, last long-ish run around the lake and feeling my heart race and my legs move and my breath, foggy in the cold, and feeling happy I’ve had this running joy for ten years and hopeful that I will have it again eventually

6 post-surgery nurses, especially the one with whom I had this conversation.

Nurse: “How is your pain? Honey? How is your pain?”

Me: (rolling from side to side and moaning and almost vomiting and mumbling) “Idontknow maybefour.”

Out of a ten-point scale.

Nurse: “Oh honey. Let’s say it’s a six.” And then she gave me more meds. That was awesome. And a good reminder that being tough isn’t always the right thing.

7 at least one morning post-surgery with my husband before he left for Djibouti. Not long enough and I miss him like crazy already, but it was better than no time and choosing gratitude doesn’t mean being nit-picky

8 emergency room doctors and parents who make healthcare decisions for me when I can barely finish a coherent sentence

9 something not-cancer related: going to my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s wedding dress fitting. She picked a gorgeous dress but she makes the dress move from gorgeous to stunning. So happy for my brother and for her.

10 old friend from far away, one of my first-ever friends drove through multiple states to visit me and sit with me and drive me around

11 walking in the snow on a silent Sunday morning

12 talking about Third Culture Kids with women who love them deeply

13 one week post-surgery, one week sans thyroid, feels like a milestone

14 being an extra at an extended friends Thanksgiving dinner party

15 hearing about a childhood friend’s dream for serving single mothers

16 meeting a writer friend at the Loft

17 high school friends (we haven’t changed at all)

18 Austin Channing Brown, preaching

19 Kenyan tea with an old friend who oozes gentle wisdom

20 one college student, home for the weekend

21 second college student, home for the weekend

22 American Thanksgiving

23 American Thanksgiving #2

24 young cousins attacking their oldest cousins with pillows

25 good conversations with my adult(!) children

26 post-op appointment: cancer didn’t spread

27 raspberries

28 brunch with new friends who have big hearts

29 turning in the final draft of Welcome to Djibouti, a guidebook

30 the Nutcracker Ballet with my mom and pork chops with cherry glaze for dinner

Good Things, the Sixteenth. October 2018.

Taking note of one good thing every day. This month was hard and good. From Italy to New York, the Evolving Faith conference to meeting my two new nephews, all topped off with cancer, what a ride. Still, I’m thankful and here’s my monthly review of why.

1 bad news from the doctor, so what is the good thing? He is a good doctor and understands, since he grew up in South Africa, the international complications of my situation

2 happy birthday mom, let’s fly to Italy

3 the warmest possible welcome into the town and family of the subject of my book

4 speaking about Annalena Tonelli and a love that is stronger than fear to 250 Italian high school seniors

5 I’m in Italy and I’m not thinking about Kavanaugh or Ford. I’m thinking about sacrificial love, courageous service, and hard, hard work, about community and peace and hope

6 university lectures I can sort of follow (barely) in Italian

7 one last bowl of gelato before leaving Italy

8 flying home-ish

9 good news from the doctor after a second biopsy – probably it didn’t spread

10 picking up Tom at the airport, now we are in the same country for a few weeks, like regular married people

11 night photography class and city lights reflected off water

12 collecting red, orange, and yellow leaves

13 leaf-covered bridges

14 listening to live music with my husband and taste-testing beer (I never like beer but it does look pretty)

15 trampolining fun with the newest kid in my life, fun to play little kid games again and who doesn’t love a good trampoline bounce?

16 coffee with a woman I met on the airplane, never done that before, I’m a no-talker on planes, but enjoyed how our thoughts and live have traced similar trails in recent years

17 quick pre-op physical (because darn it all, other than the alien beast in my neck, I’m perfectly healthy)

18 talking with an expatriate who had to leave her job abroad because of health issues, she gets it

19 Jones family Halloween party complete with relay games, scavenger hunt, and eyeball spaghetti

20 watching my daughter work on an experiment in her chemistry lab at University, then hiking Gooseberry Falls on a gorgeous MN fall afternoon

21 my husband cooked a feast for me while I worked

22 long run, ran the whole time, maybe the last double digit run for a while

23 deep and vulnerable conversation about the broken places in our lives

24 meeting my two new nephews for the first time since they were adopted

25 adding another sister to the mix, in North Carolina

26 Evolving Faith Conference

27 Still. Evolving Faith Conference.

28 true community living, a radically upside down way of life and love

29 talking books and publishing and dreaming

30 250 high school students with open ears and hearts to a message about moving away from comfort, toward need

31 giving directions to a Somali couple, in Somali, in my little suburb. Laughing together and welcoming them to the neighborhood where all are welcome.

What are you thankful for?

Good Things, the Fourteenth. August, 2018

Taking note of one good thing every day.

1 chicken tortilla soup for a friend

2 4-mile tempo run along the lake, beneath gray cloudy skies, around fields of sunflowers

3 Swedish Fish by the handful

4 graduation open houses and being asked if I am the graduate

5 the most incredible quilts, a lifetime of memory and beauty sewn by grandma

6 sushi by Lake Superior

7 visiting the coolest physical therapist office in Ashland, WI, owned by childhood friends

8 the Apostle Islands, jumping into freezing water, and a hike through the woods

9 thrift store day with my three kids

10 a listening ear, a caring heart

11 blueberries

12 fireflies over cornfields in the hills of southern Minnesota

13 a long bike ride with my husband, along an old railway line

14 watching my kids wakeboard like pros

15 caught in the rain at the end of a long run

16 racquetball game in which I hit the ball, most of the time

17 farm days

18 a gathering of women writers in Minnesota

19 being blessed by strangers

20 Jones family tradition of lunch at Old Chicago, full of laughter and good conversation. I just love spending time with my people.

21 one child, launched

22 exploring a new city with my husband and our youngest who still runs to play on playgrounds

23 best Dairy Queen ever, extra large sizes, dilly bars with ice cream cones on top, one of a kind in Eau Claire, WI

24 being the newbie dork at the fitness club who has never used a stair master and stumbling off it and laughing at myself instead of feeling embarrassed

25 big bacon on a stick (can you guess where I ate that in Minnesota at the end of August?)

26 bike ride through the park on one of the last sunny, warm days of summer

27 Italian fagioli soup at Open Book, downtown Minneapolis

28 manuscript editing in front of a fireplace on a gray, rainy day

29 hot-tubbing

30 all you can eat fresh stir-fry

31 one kid home for the weekend, the other packing to launch

By |September 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |1 Comment

Good Things, the Eleventh. May 2018.

1 original blessing, a book

2 kids, phone calls

3 an American friend, Danish friend, Korean friend, and Indian food

4 delicious French dinner with friends and cow tongue

5 my dad’s birthday

6 sitting on the beach for a rare conversation with a good friend

7 banana splits

8 one final volleyball game, ball over the wall four times

9 tears mingled across phone lines, no one is alone

10 unexpected generosity from far away

11 professionals

12 Kenyan pedicures

13 people brave enough and empathetic enough to pause, look in the eyes, and say, “I’m so sorry”

14 umbrellas, on loan, while away from home and in a rainy country

15 learning that doubling up on socks is almost as good as wearing slippers

16 varsity girls volleyball, a Minnesota friend, Burger King in Kenya, and stimulating conversation on a rainy drive home

17 my young nephew being so sweet and tender he made me cry from across the world

18 dreaming about banana bread and then banana bread at staff snack time

19 all day, no rain

20 sloppy hamburgers with bacon

21 running in the rain, scrambling up mud hills, sliding back down

22 Finding Home book release day

23 actually finding a home

24 learning more about Mary and Martha

25 phone call to Malaysia, solving all the thing

26 one night, one puzzle

27 the whole family at the same table

28 a place to run

29 learning to live one day at a time

30 new depth to the words: here. now. this.

31 talking faith and fresh interpretations

What are your good things?

Good Things, the Tenth. April 2018

This month almost got away from me without keeping track. I missed a few days and had to remember what had happened then.

Here’s my good things from April. Paying attention and taking note of one good thing, every day.


1 Extreme egg hunting among thorns, trash, skull graffiti, and donkeys

2 Teenagers babysitting. Pillow fights. Tackle time. General awesome chaos

3 Settlers

4 family road trip north

5 long-term friend, sharing my heart

6 40

7 a surprise 40-celebration with cupcakes

8 teenage humor and a scary mannequin baby

9 brother! nephew!

10 kayaking at sunset down snaking rivers through mangroves

11 camel train at lac assal

12 here’s the International School of Djibouti!

13 SCUBA diving, snorkeling off hidden beaches, rain on the boat

14 sunrise service at Turtle Island, one life deeply impacted

15 a beach emergency, my nephew keeping calm, my son taking charge like a pro, my daughters helping and keeping spirits up, excellent urgent care at the French hospital from German surgeons. #scaredbutthankful

16 school board meeting with coworkers and friends who share the vision and are eager to be involved

17 #openhousetomorrow

18 people from all aspects of our lives, from all over the globe, celebrating our graduating twins

19 waffle bar Thursday and Settlers

20 local running team sprinting past me, the slow 40-year old, including two girls in head scarves, spandex shorts, and tank tops. Rock on, girls!

21 three kids walking into the sunset together, last night in this country for two of them

22 tears at the airport

23 empathy from a fellow mom of boarding school kids

24 bacon bits

25 a quiet, empty house

26 phone calls with giggling 12-year olds

27 Turkish kebabs, bread, and expressing thanks for good husbands

28 coffee with a global friend

29 a hike in Arta Town at sunset

30 the power came back on. Eventually.