Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all nations.
-Psalms 100

This is going to be the longest post in the history of Blogdom. It was Thanksgiving yesterday, and I have so much to be thankful for. My writing coach asked me to write down 50 things that I was thankful for and send them to her. 

At first I thought, No way! Fifty things to be thankful for? I mean, yeah, I have things to be thankful for, but FIFTY? Then I started writing, and I realized that FIFTY little numbers with what I was thankful for right beside them wasn’t enough. Instead I began to wonder if I was going to be able to fit all the things I was thankful for right beside the fifty designated little numbers. But I managed to fit lots of them in, although those fifty things aren’t the only things I am thankful for. Someone suggested that I write them down here for you, so I decided I would. The order I have them in doesn’t mean that number two is the second-most-thankful thing and number fifty is the fiftieth-most-thankful thing. They are all scrambled up, because I wrote each of them down as I thought of it, in no particular order.

Just because I have tire swings and merry-go-rounds way down at the bottom doesn’t mean that they are any less important than my brothers and sisters. Kidding.

But beware. This. Is. Going. To. Be. One. Looooooooong. Post.

Alrighty. Let’s get started…

I am thankful for:

1. A personal relationship with Christ Jesus…so many times I forget how blessed I am to be able to talk with Him any time I want to, and He always hears!

2. Sisters. Sometimes (actually, more than just sometimes) they can be rather annoying *wink*, but they are truly God’s gift, and I don’t know what I’d do without them!

3. Brothers. Since I am thankful for my sisters, I “might as well” put brothers in here… Just kidding. 🙂 I am very thankful for my brothers, and they have been a huge blessing to me. I’ve learned a lot from them.

4. Mom. She has taught each of us kids invaluable lessons. She teaches me piano, and she would teach me how to cook if I wanted to know. She is an excellent cook, and we are never lacking for good, healthy food. She is amazing at throwing all the leftovers in the fridge in a pot and coming up with something really good! Half of her soup “recipes” aren’t even recipes at all. One of the first times I remember feeling grown up was when I was about four or five years old, and Mom and I stayed up late at night and watched a movie. I felt ten feet tall! 🙂

5. Dad. I could not ask for a better one. When I was very little, I remember him sitting on the edge of my bed telling me stories about King David. That is probably why I still love reading Bible stories about King David today. He (Dad, not King David) has taught me many priceless lessons that no one else could have, and I’ve learned a lot about what a good marriage should be from the way he treats Mom and the way Mom treats him. One specific memory from a long time ago… One night I was lying in bed — and minding my own business, I might add — and all of a sudden I looked around and saw a strange, lumpy shape moving towards me. [It might have looked like two or three people under a blanket. But it even more so reminded me of a bug under a rug. A very BIG bug under a rug. And I might add that I was scared of the Dr. Seuss book that first introduced me to the bug under the rug.] Then a deep, gruff voice said something like, “I have come to kidnap you.” Brittany and I were afraid, but something about that voice sounded like Dad’s voice. My brave older sister courageously spoke up and told that to the strange lumpy monster under the blanket. The voice laughed really deeply and said, “Well, maybe I am your father…but you’ll have to come under the blanket to find out!” Brittany went under first, and I followed a little bit later. Sure enough, it was Dad, and we all sat underneath the blanket with a flashlight and ate graham crackers. 🙂

6. Uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. I love belonging to such a large, amazing family! (And might I add crazy?)

7. Trees and flowers. If we didn’t have either of these, can you imagine how dull things would be?

8. The sound of the wind through the trees. Ahhhhhh, I could listen to that sound forever.

9. Lightning and thunder. We have some AMAZING lightning shows here in Nebraska, probably some of the best I’ve ever seen. My little brother calls lightning “God’s handwriting.”

10. Books! I love to read, and I’ve actually read over 100 books this year, since February.

11. Creativity, not just in me, but in everyone. Out of all the books that have been written, not one story is the same. Out of all the pictures that have been drawn or painted, they are all different. So many crafts, cards, games, articles of clothing, blankets, woodwork, designs on plates and cups and vases…there is such amazing variety!

12. God’s creativity. Flowers, trees, clouds, water, animals, fish, birds, bugs, blades of grass. Every snowflake is different, every person is different; everything He has made is so complex!

13. I know I’ve already mentioned snowflakes, but I’ll mention them one more time. 🙂

14. My friend Jasa Scheierman and all of our lengthy conversations. Our dreams and likes and doubts and fears are much the same, and I’ve been blessed with a Christian friend like her who will pray for me and hold me accountable.

15. My friend Abby Turner. She is a missionary kid in Bolivia, and we email each other back and forth. We are so close that we call each other honorary cousins. We have a lot of fun when they come back to the States, and once they were our close neighbors when they were on furlough…they lived just two blocks away!

16. Danielle Vander Velde. We can talk about practically anything, and we have some amazing (and some *interesting*) conversations. Even though she is thirteen and I am sixteen, we have a lot in common, and so far we haven’t gotten tired of each other! (Proverbs 18:24, although my brothers and sisters stick pretty close and are actually my best friends. 🙂 )

17. A wonderful church family, both from the church we go to now, and from our “old church”.

18. A great pastor!!! God has given him an amazing ability to teach His word, and he is so much fun to listen to! He gives so many hilarious real-life scenarios to go along with his message, and he can relate to people really well, which I think is important for a good pastor. God has blessed my whole family (and extended family) through him!

19. Friends from Grace Baptist Church. (My Grandma Bergen’s church in Kansas.) I especially enjoy visiting with Kaleigh and Meleah Kornfeld.

20. Friends that I don’t see a lot, but who can still have great conversations and a lot of laughs when we meet up.

21. Both of my grandpas who are in heaven. Both were godly men who led great examples and loved their children and grandchildren so much, and who taught many people about Christ.

22. My grandmas. Really, I can’t imagine what I would do without them! Both are active witnesses for Christ, and both play huge parts in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Both of them have stayed true to Christ, even through the deaths of their husbands.

23. Um…can I mention Abigail Turner, Jasa Scheierman, and Danielle Vander Velde again?

24. Missionary friends who I am privileged to know and to be kept updated on their lives in Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, and other countries.

25. The love to write on my blog and to write stories. I’ve spent many hours doing both, and I love it! I’ve written several books (and started several more) and altogether I have written approximately 850 pages of different stories. I think that maybe someday when I am a missionary, I will write a book on my experiences. Or maybe I’ll write more than one! 🙂

26. The dream to become a missionary. I love having a dream, and I love feeling called by God. It feels special to have already known ever since I was little (so little that I can’t even remember when I first wanted to become a missionary) that God was calling me to do something special for Him.

27. Back-rubbing devices. 🙂

28. White Office paper and black ink pens…there’s a lot you can do with those!

29. Music. The good quality, uplifting hymns, not the crash-the-pots-and-pans-on-the-stove-top-and-pretend-it’s-music type. Actually, I like a lot of songs/CDs that aren’t hymns, such as RoundUp, John Williams, and The Man From Snowy River soundtrack, but the hymns are so comfortable and familiar to me.

30. Piano. Now, several years ago I would have died before I would have said that. But I am starting to enjoy playing the piano, now that I’m getting better at it. I’ve played several times for church and it went fine, even though my stomach had butterflies in it, my heart was in my throat, and my fingers were shaking so hard they looked like they were trying to do a dance with each other.

31. Chiropractors. Not for my sake, but for my sisters’ sakes. Both of them have had to go in; one because of an escapade with a Gator (the kind you drive, not the kind that chomps you in half), and the other from getting into the suburban the wrong way, twisting her neck, and popping it out of joint. Silly sisters.

32. Games. Tiger Tag, Frogs and Flies, Superman, Sardines, Hide ‘n’ Seek, Monopoly Deal, Snoops (there’s a family joke behind that one), Presidents, Golf (the card game), Liar, Spit, Garbage (all three of those are card games, too…sound gross though, don’t they?), Who Sir-Me Sir?, Psychiatrist, Signs, Man Over Board, and Poker, just to name a few. (Only I’m kidding about the Poker part.)

33. Jokes, tricks, and pranks. There’s a lot to be said on those three subjects, but I should probably refrain from saying anything about all of them. 🙂

34. Laughter/smiles. Laughter is amazing. I should know. I laugh all the time, and if I can’t find something to laugh at, I just make something up. Or just laugh at nothing.

35. Love. Now this is truly amazing. And it is even more amazing to think that God loves me and you far more than either of us can love anything or anyone.

36. Gestures of love, such as hugs, kisses, slaps on the back, handshakes, kind words, etc. The way each person shows their love is special: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch…each has its place, and each is special.

37. Thankfulness! (Whew, that scared me for a minute…I accidently spelled thankfulness with two L’s, and the computer told me it wasn’t a word.) Can you imagine if we didn’t have thankfulness? Everybody would be grumbling or complaining, and if we had no thankfulness, there would be no joy.

38. The ability to touch, to taste, to hear, to see, to speak, to smell. (Actually, I can think of quite a few times when I wished I couldn’t smell.)

39. The holes in Jesus’ hands that are proof that He loves us and died for us so that we can be with Him for eternity.

40. A warm house—that is, when the heat is on high enough. 🙂

41. Andy Griffith and Daniel Boone episodes. 🙂 🙂 🙂 They have whiled away many a long evening and provided us with lots of laughs.

42. Family time, both working and playing.

43. The ability to memorize Scripture. Right now Brittany and I are working on memorizing Matthew 5, 6, and 7. I’ve also been enjoying memorizing old speeches, such as the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, The American’s Creed, and Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”.

44. Christmas, and the joy of celebrating Jesus’ birth with other believers, family, and friends.

45. God’s letter of love to us, the Bible. It constantly amazes me that, no matter how many times I read His Word, there is always something new that I find, always some encouragement that seems to have been put there just for me.

46. The many stories in the Bible of courageous men and women who gave their all to serve God. In each one, there is a lesson.

47. Tire swings and merry-go-rounds, trampolines and homemade obstacle courses, slides and monkey bars and jungle-gyms. Although I can stand with my feet flat on the ground and still touch the monkey bars.

48. Water parks!

49. Family vacations. Especially if those family vacations are somewhere around Silver Dollar City and “the second fastest wood roller coaster in the world”…the great Outlaw Run! Which we rode six times in a row.

50. My writing coach who prompted me to think of 50 different things I am thankful for. 🙂 I am so thankful for all of our lessons…it is fun to have a writing coach who is also a friend, and who has taught me so much already!

And this is hereby the longest post in the history of my Blogdom, at 467 words longer than any post I’ve ever written. And that is an important feature, because it took quite a long time to count.