The Giver

Book 2 of 2018 was "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. It was published in 1993.

One of my earlier chapter book memories is reading "The Giver." I remember finding it unsettling and beautiful. I remember feeling like it caused a bit of a shift in my axis of my thinking. It's a brilliant book, and as much fun as it was to read as an 11-year-old, it's also very powerful to read as an adult.

Jonas is such a compelling character as is the Giver.

The book raises such important questions about what it means to be community...who writes the rules...who questions the rules...perception...memory....growing up....death....pain...beauty.

One of my favorite passages is toward the end. Jonas and Giver are working on a plan, and Jonas doesn't want to be separated from him.
"Giver," Jonas suggested, "you and I don't need to care about the rest of them." 
The Giver looked at him with a questioning smile. Jonas hung his head. Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything. 
For whatever reason, those lines have been rumbling through my mind these last few days...the idea of caring, even when its painful and requires sacrifice, being the meaning of everything.

Such a good book! Have you read it?


India: One Year Later

One year ago this week we were in India for the wedding of Sweta and Joshua! What a marvelous, magical, memorable experience. I hold those memories so very close to my heart, and I am forever grateful for Sweta's presence in our family. 

It is such fun to see Josh and Sweta together - bringing one another so much joy and support. Happy anniversary, Josh and Sweta! Love you so very much!



From The King Center archives
On Monday I learned about The King Center archives. It includes over 1,000,000 documents, notecards, sermons, speeches, and clippings related to the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I ended up stumbling across this particular notecard which defines "Freedom."
Freedom means having the power to transcend the chain of stimulus and response by deliberation and decision. This is present in man.
My theme word of 2018 is 'Free.' My hope is to come to a fuller understanding of what it means....and to live into my freedom every day. I tend to see barriers/worries/fears/concerns everywhere, and sometimes it blocks my sense of inner freedom...the awareness that every day is full of hundreds of little opportunities to make choices and be free. 

I also think of Jesus' words in John 8:32: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What exactly did Jesus mean? I want to dive more deeply into that question in the year ahead. 

I am aided by MLK's definition. It ties into some of the things I learned last spring in Doug McGill's 6-week meditation course about awareness. 

As humans, we are free to transcend the chain of stimulus and response happening in our minds all the time. 

In many ways, we are perpetually free. Our freedom is only an awareness/thought away. 

I hope you have a sense of that freedom today. 


Emoji Adventure: 🌾

Episode 2: 🌾. Chris Nibbe started making brooms a few years back, and it is now one of his favorite creative pursuits. For this #emojiadventure, we got a tour of Chris's garage shop. Then we attended his show, "The Unusual Sweeping Habits of Chris Nibbe" at Gallery 24 in Rochester.

Do you have a suggestion for an adventure based on an emoji? Leave a comment below!



jesse Williams posted this on his Instagram today.

I pray for a movement in my own spirit away from shallowness & lukewarmth...to a voice and heart willing to be loud and bold and honest for the sake of a more just world.


This Week's Column

Good Sunday to you!

Did I already share last week's column? About a 2018-restart?

If not, here it is. 

On that note - how is your January going?

And here's this weekend's column; it's about Arizona.

A recap on the past week....

I went from feeling really awesome last weekend...to decent on Monday...to awful on Tuesday. So awful, in fact, that I had to stay home and sleep. The IVIG side effects caught up with me. Tuesday was rough but I was back to work by Wednesday. The sore neck and migraine carried me through the rest of the week...I'd forgotten about the IVIG ick. But rest assured, I remember now!

The good news is that the platelets, Nplate, and IVIG all worked and my count is way back up into the normal range!

The plummet appears to have been a momentary blip caused that cold I caught after New Years, and all should be back to normal now. Yahoo!

Onward and upward.

Justin and I ended up having a really wonderful weekend; I'll share more highlights in the days ahead. Some plans ended up falling through but we already had the rental car and the dog sitter set, so we went up to Minneapolis and Stillwater for the day. Such fun.

And coming soon...our next Emoji Adventure! The video is uploading to Youtube as I type!

Have a great night and a good start to the week.


The words "I don't know"

I read a great essay this morning from this week's edition of Lenny. It's titled Why More Doctors Should Embrace the Words "I Don't Know."

It's written by a physician, and it's about physicians, but I like it because it applies to everyone in all professions.

I'd love for pastors to embrace "I don't know," too.

Here's the link. 

I've noticed lately that in all vocational realms there seems to be a serious resistance to saying "I don't know." From politicians to ministers to professors...many have a hard time with those words. And yet, those words are the actual truth. No one knows everything.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments if you feel like sharing!


Emoji Adventure: ☕️

I love adventures of every kind and believe they can be found everywhere. From walks in the local neighborhood to traveling to places around the globe, every day is full of possibility. I also love emojis. So why not combine these two loves? Emojis & adventures! 

This year I'll be going on all kinds of adventures based on different emojis. I talked my husband, Justin, into going with me for this one! Our first adventure is based on: ☕️. 

In this episode of "Emoji Adventures," we visit Lumen Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota. It's a new drive-through coffee spot that just opened in December 2017. Subscribe to the "Holy Everything" Youtube channel and join me for future emoji adventures!


2018: here we begin. again.

Good Sunday morning to you!

Long story short: I ended up needing to get IVIG and platelets on Friday. My platelet count was at 5, so it was necessary and helpful. I'm grateful for all those blood donors out there. Both platelets and IVIG are made out of blood products. I learned while at the Infusion Therapy Center that each IVIG infusion is made up of the antibodies of between 5,000 and 50,000 people!?!?! Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. 

With a cute cardinal that my in-laws sent along with Justin. 
Justin, Finn, and I took it pretty easy Friday night with some movie watching (Dunkirk) and adult coloring books. Yesterday I felt pretty tired and had a bad headache (a common side effect of IVIG for me) most of the day but was feeling great by evening. Today I'm feeling really good!

With all the upheaval of the past week (J's car troubles, the death of Justin's friend, and the platelet drama), Justin and I decided to have a restart of 2018 this weekend - complete with watching a Youtube video of the ball drop in New York City. I also got some ridiculous LED-light plastic glasses from ALDI so we could *cheers* to the year ahead.

I've long been drawn to the idea of "restarts" and "do-overs." By 3rd grade I had a habit every now and then of skipping a page of my journal, then writing "Brand New Life" on the next page, and then continuing on with life on the following page.

So, here we go, 2018! Brand New Life!

If you're feeling the need for a reset at any point in the year ahead, I'd recommend this little activity. Give yourself permission to reclaim the year and reclaim your life. We can start over as many times as we damn well please. We write our own stories, folks. We choose how to interpret the reality in which we live...no one else gets to write your story but you.

While I was at the Infusion Therapy Center, I had the chance to dive more deeply into on my first book of 2018, "Becoming Wise" by Krista Tippett. I encountered this passage which highlights an interview Tippett conducted with Ellen Davis.

"Anything in our world now that slows us down is to be valued and maybe as a gift and even a calling from God."

Anything?! Is that really what she meant?

My spirit chewed the words slowly and then swallowed.

A gift and *maybe* even a calling.

"She could be right," I thought. "This could be very, very true."

Maybe sometimes it's even a calling not of our own choosing, but a calling nevertheless.

Davis wasn't specifically talking about chronic illness or time spent at the hospital, but I think her reflections are certainly true in those realms, too.

Maybe it is all a gift.

A strange, irritating, cosmic present. A gift that's all wrapped up with sterile, white bed linens and i.v. tubing....and a unit of neon yellow platelets on top.


happy new year. doozy.

What a new year so far! 
Oh my. 
It has been a heck of a week in the Carson-Stoll-Finn household.
2018 has kept us on our toes. And it's only Thursday! 😝

The drive back to Minnesota from Wisconsin Dells on New Years Day took about 8 hours instead of 2 because hubby's car had some issues. Eventually my mom ended up coming to pick us up after we'd made it to St. Charles (thanks mum!!!). The car is now fixed, and a surprising bonus - it ended up being really interesting to be a 1-car family for a couple days. Hopefully we can do more carpooling and strategic driving in the future. Soon it will be biking season again so I can take my two-wheeled vehicle to work. 

Then on Tuesday I caught a cold. I did high-dose vitamin C which tends to help me, and sure enough, the cold is almost gone today! But...as you probably remember from my past posts...colds/flu/viruses tend to be quite hard on my platelet count. 

And sure enough, as of yesterday evening I was at a count of 12. I'll get another blood test tomorrow morning. If I'm up, we'll just increase my Nplate injection and things should stabilize. If I'm down, I'll either get platelets or IVIG or both. 

I actually feel a lot better tonight than I have in a couple days! Far less woozy and my nose/throat are much better. So I'm quite hopeful that my count will be back up. My platelets have been fairly stable over the last couple years, and my ITP has definitely been in the backseat. Hopefully it can remain in the backseat, and I'll be in remission before 2018 comes to a close. Wouldn't that be lovely? 

A special perk of yesterday was getting to see the ALSOPS!!! My dear seminary friends! They stopped at the office on their drive back to Illinois. Oh how sweet it was to see them. I accidentally photo-bombed....

Seeing them always brings me such joy and happy memories. Hopefully Justin and I can go and visit them this summer!

Work has been moving right along this week. Winter/spring is the busiest season of my job, and I really enjoy my team, day-to-day work and projects. 

Justin is attending the visitation and funeral of a scouting friend named Todd who passed away suddenly last weekend. So tragic and untimely. His friends have created a GoFundMe page to help defray funeral costs and support his wife, Shayla, and their children. Here's a link. Thank you for holding Todd's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers over the days and weeks ahead. 

I'm working on curating a Spotify playlist called winter chill vibes. Here's the link.