Monday, December 13, 2010


Someday, I'll be glad I wrote today's post.  It will eventually be nice to reflect on these times, thankful that God dragged me out of this pit with my peace and joy restored.

For right now, though, it just plain stinks and it's hard to write down.  Will I really want to remember these days?

The funk I find myself is lingering much longer than I'd like to admit.  
I'm feeling uncharacteristically unmotivated.
At this point in my job search, I feel "meh."  Now uncertain that a job will help and I don't see a way out anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Christmas Cards!

If you're a blog-follower, you may have already seen dozens of posts about Shutterfly's 50-free Christmas cards.  Here's another one!  I'm not usually one to follow through on several steps to receive a free gift because it seems like too much effort.  However, this time around, I'm living on a budget and 50-free cards is good-enough incentive for me!

This will be the first year we're sending out Christmas cards since our wedding was just months before Christmas last year and our hands were too tired from writing thank you notes.  I love receiving cards with yearly updates and hope to cleverly display them this year, too.

For you to qualify for 50 free cards, follow these steps:

More exact details, go here.

I'm excited to add Christmas cards to our list of "Team Bricknell" holiday traditions!  Maybe ours will end up on your fridge! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bible Study

Today, I'm thankful for my Monday night Bible study.

Sundays are work days for Paul and I don't often come away 'filled' or inspired from the service.
Mondays afternoons, Paul leads a bible study for some high school boys.
Tuesday afternoons, he leads one for middle school kids.
Wednesdays are for 150+ middle and high school kids at youth group and the occasional "late start breakfast" at our house for my junior girls.

And Monday nights are for ME.

I'm so thankful for this group of women, most of whom are young moms with crazy schedules, who set Monday nights aside for fellowship and study.  We just finished going through Chip Ingram's "The Invisible War" and it was both eye-opening and beneficial to study spiritual warfare.  This is a group who faithfully meets together and prays for each other.  These ladies have been meeting for years and it is so special to rejoice together over answered prayers and continued petitions.

I'm thankful for this outlet - where I don't have to teach anything and I don't even have to say anything if I don't want to.

I can just come.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Thoughtful Hubs

Today, I'm thankful for my thoughtful husband who surprised and blessed me with many lovely gifts upon my return home:

  • a warm airport greeting complete with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers
  • window shopping at Ikea and Home Goods to kill time before our "mystery dinner"
  • Dinner at P.F. Chang's (thanks Mattanda!) and our new menu favorite: crispy green beans
  • the unexpected night's stay at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver... just because.
I'm so glad I married a man who likes to surprise me. 
He sure knows how to make me melt!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Today, I'm thankful for HOME.

I've lived in a number of places since leaving Grants Pass as a college student and none has felt as "mine" as ours on Maple Street.

Paul did major work on the house when he moved in 4 years ago.  New insulation, new siding, new windows, new window trim, new baseboards, new plumbing, new bathroom, new paint... the list goes on!  We are (well, mostly Paul) wrapping up some loose ends and putting finishing touches inside.  Now we have windowsills!

Now we're picking out curtains and artwork and it seems as though we're always rearranging.  We've had to be creative with furniture placement in our 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home.  We'll spend hours cleaning out our narrow, single-car garage to park a car inside, only to start parking in the driveway again to provide temporary storage for our things as we paint, refinish furniture, etc.  It's been a tiresome process and things are looking good at the Bricknell's.

Now we have to find a place for our Christmas tree...

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today, I'm thankful for our dishwasher.

In Mexico, I was washing dishes by hand which I have done much of in the past. Coming home to a dishwasher was delightful!

We were gifted a portable dishwasher from some friends the day Paul got his cast on in May.  We giggle at the impeccable timing and are thankful our friends were gutting their kitchen and no longer needed their dishwasher.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today, I'm thankful for the game of Cribbage!

I learned how to play in college (thanks, Audge!) but was never very good because I didn't play it often enough to really grasp the strategy.  Paul whooped me every time we played together, and he decided to start keeping score.  So, on the back of our cribbage board, we have a tally set up.  Sure enough, ever since we've been keeping score, I've been winning!

This has been a fun way to spend our evenings together.  It gives us a good excuse to turn off the tv, grab a bowl of ice cream, and play some cards before bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Youth Group

Today, I'm thankful for youth group.

I got to skype with the youth group on the big screen, all the way from Chihuahua, Mexico!  It's the first Wednesday night I've missed since I got married, and it was so special to still be a part of things 2,000 miles away.

Though I like to think I turned out okay without a solid youth group growing up, I am so thankful for what our middle school and high school kids have at Calvary - something I never had.

  • an AMAZING youth pastor who has far out done the average tenure of 18 months.  Try 8 years! (The youth pastor before Paul was there for 18 years.)
  • 30+ adult volunteers who show up every Wednesday night
  • a multi-generational youth camp that has been put on for 25 years at Mayfield Lake.  Hundreds of teens have made decisions for Christ here.  Men and women up to their 80s volunteer in the kitchen or snack shack, and even new moms with their babies sleep in the cabins as counselors.  This is one of the best things that Calvary does as a church.

My cabin of junior girls last July

Mud games involving watermelons and crisco...

Team Bricknell baptizing one of my small group girls.  Such a proud moment for!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loving God With My Mind

Today, I'm thankful that I can love God with my mind.
Growing up, I never questioned the things I learned; I accepted most everything as Truth.

Then I went to George Fox University which blew my mind!

I learned to think for myself, to ask questions of things I had never once considered.
I remember walking out of my philosophy class and theology class wanting to rip out my hair because I didn't have the answers to the questions I was asking.

How can the presence of an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God coexist with the presence of suffering, injustice and evil?
What is the point of prayer if God already knows everything?  
Can prayer change God's mind?
What does the Bible mean when it says that women shouldn't teach men?

At times, I've doubted.
I still struggle.
And I kept going back for more.
I am so thankful for the freedom in which I can do all three.
I've come to believe that when I wrestle with such complex issues, I'm loving God with the mind He created me with.

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  
-Matthew 22:37

Monday, November 8, 2010

4-H & Selling Books

Today I'm thankful for my 4-H experience and Paul's door-to-door book selling.

I didn't raise livestock or do anything animal-related.
What I did wasn't the least bit popular at the time.  I did the "Suzy Homemaker" side of 4-H which included cooking and sewing. While my friends were at the fairgrounds riding the Gravitron with their armband of unlimited rides, I was either making Apple Souffle in a timed competition in front of judges or taking pictures wearing my homemade schoolhouse vest with apple buttons.  (Oh, and I had round glasses, too.  Geek alert!)

Little did I know at the time, about 15 years ago, that the homemaking skills I learned would prepare me to be Paul's wife.  He loves to bring up the fact that I hold Grand Champion ribbons in both categories.  Even more than that, he loves eating what I've cooked up.
Paul sold books door-to-door for two summers while attending Multnomah.  He drove cross country and sold books in a small town in New York.  Southwestern provided opportunities for personal growth, mentoring, character building and life skills training.  There were times when he felt like giving up and he pushed through.  Paul often refers to this experience as something that prepared him to be a better husband and dad someday.

Thank you, Lord, for preparing us for each other even when we didn't realize it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

True Friends

Today I'm thankful for heart conversations with my friends.  We talk about family, church, worship, prayer, jobs, our future, etc.  It's refreshing to be around people who have known me for a long time because we're not satisfied with simple "hellos" and "how are yous."

To all my true friends, you know who you are,
Thank you!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Today, I am thankful for webcams, g-chat, skype, and the like.  This afternoon, while 2000 miles apart, Paul and I got to see each other!  We used Skype and chatted for about 45 minutes.  It's hard to imagine traveling without the Internet to stay in touch, and I'm not sure I'd be willing to do it.

It's comforting to see my husband's face and I appreciate that it's free and easy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Pacific Northwest

I don't ever want to live in El Paso, TX... or Chihuahua, MX for that matter.  The scenery consists of only 3 colors: blue, brown and green.  The sky is blue, the ground is brown, and the green is from the few trees in the area.  The mountains that exist here don't even compare to those in the NW.

I am so thankful to have grown up in an area abundant with lakes, mountains, beach access, trees, flowers, and seasons, as opposed to this:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Car Conversations

Today, I am thankful for car rides with my husband, with his hand on my knee.  We got up at 4:15 and were on the road by 5am to get to the airport for my adventure to Mexico.  Paul is the best traveling companion, even at 5am.  Even at 5 o'clock in the morning, we talked the whole way down - I can't even remember the details of our conversation, but I do remember feeling content and peaceful.  With his hand on my knee, I feel loved and safe.

I love you, Paul, and I love that you took me to the airport before the crack of dawn because you wanted to.  :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today (and every Wednesday morning), I am thankful for my mother-in-law.  Rachel (my m-i-l) is absolutely amazing.  She is a woman who loves her family so much and I am so blessed to be a Bricknell under her care!  We have coffee every Wednesday at 10:15am and are using it as an excuse to discover the coffee shops in town and connect as girls- she has two boys.  :)

Thank you, Momma B.  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today, I'm thankful for sunshine.  I'm beginning to hate Longview's weather less and less on days like today.  The brilliant colors of the leaves are magnified on clear days like this, and I'm pretty sure I've discovered the most beautiful red-leafed tree in Longview - if only I had my camera!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leaky Roof

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and in an effort not to overlook its importance with all the Christmas distractions, I'm choosing something to be thankful for each day.

Today, I am thankful for a roof over our heads.  Even though it leaks... we are dry and have a cozy home to keep us warm during rain storms.

This is the surprise we found in in our bathroom today:

 Paul climbed on the roof in the pouring rain and put a tarp down, which stopped the water from coming inside.  When it was sunny a few days later, he patched it, and now we are waiting for it to rain again to see if it works!

Thank you, Lord, for our roof!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


While it was borderline painful to get out of bed this morning at 6:15 (ok, more like 6:30), we are so glad we did.  Paul went to support some middle schoolers with their See You at The Pole, while I went to support my small group girls at the high school.  We were so proud of what we witnessed!

Paul met with about 35 kids at the middle school, which is a lot considering their age and none of them drive.

I was so pleased to see 80 kids at the high school at 7am, and one of our students had already began organizing and sharing his vision for the morning.  By the time the group dispersed for classes, I counted 175 students.  I was so moved by the stand they made this morning - in front of their peers and administrators.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Year: 9-19-10

xoxo Happy One Year Anniversary to Us! xoxo

Thursday night, we had dinner at The Mansion in Longview, using a gift certificate that Paul acquired from Pastor Appreciation month from 2004.  Our gracious server honored the certificate, and we were one of two couples dining that evening.  We topped the evening off with the movie "Date Night."

Friday, we skipped town and went to Washington Square Mall where we got to treat each other to a little something special, even if it was just the "necessities". :)  Then, we drove to Cannon Beach, ignored the drizzle, got soaked on our walk to Haystack Rock, flew a kite, took lots of fun pictures, and dried out at Bella Espresso sipping delicious white mochas.  We christened our new journal that was purchased and hand painted in Thailand by journaling about our favorite memories from our first year of marriage, and making goals for our future.  We topped the trip off with clam chowder bread bowls at Mo's.

(Paul liked my new perfume... that I got for free!)

Saturday, we made breakfast for some friends who helped us wire our heat pump, and then we lazed around the rest of the day.

Sunday, our actual Anniversary, we spent at church, then at a surprise 80th birthday party for one of Paul's mentors, who also happens to be his uncle.  Then, we took Morgan to Willow Grove and enjoyed the beach by the Columbia River.  For dinner, we recreated our wedding meal (with the gracious help of Sandy, Paul's secretary) which I enjoyed for the first time a year after the fact.  I was too sick to eat any of it on our wedding day.  :(  We even ate our cake which had been stashed in the freezer for such a time as this!

I gave Paul a special scrapbook I'd been working on for us.  It's a compilation of emails, cards, memorabilia and pictures from when we first met through our first year of marriage.  I don't think I'll do this every year, but I was surprised at how much I'd saved since we started getting to know each other.

I cannot, for the life of me, get this picture to rotate!  Anyway, this is the first email  Paul ever sent me.

My journal entry right before we started dating...

Cards Paul gave me on my mission trip to Chile, to open periodically throughout my 2 weeks.

Thailand vacation; our garden

I also added our Anniversary cards to each other for the last page of the scrapbook:
Paul's card to me

My card to Paul

I can't wait to show this to our children and grandchildren someday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Discipline - or lack thereof

Enough procrastinating.  Slowly and surely, I am going to catch up on my blog.

I can blame my blog-less-ness on several things; an intense summer, being out of the country, blah, blah, blah. I'm running out of excuses, and my friends are starting to get on my case which is exactly what I need!  (You know who you are.)

What it really boils down to, though, is my lack of discipine.  Discipline is something I admire about a lot of people in my life: working full time while pursuing a degree, (and let's be honest: just plain working), raising a family, keeping the house clean, etc.  Admittedly, the longer I've been unemployed, the more I find myself sitting at home with the clock ticking by, and lacking the desire to do anything productive.  I'm frustrated with myself (gah!  a mellow, piano song just came on in this coffee shop, and emotions are getting the best of me... fighting back tears) and this lack of drive, which (I hope) is uncharacteristic.

I've only been back in the country for 2 weeks, and 4 of those days were spent in Grants Pass with my family.  Paul is back at work, and I'm at home by myself.  We had such a crazy summer and I was so involved.  And, along with the returning of normalcy to the Bricknell household, discouragement has come right along with it.

Returning from Thailand consisted of 4 loads of laundry, back to cooking and cleaning, unloading and loading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, taking care of the garden, etc.  These things occupy my time, yet occupy no place in my heart (although the garden has been a surprisingly enjoyable).  The other night, I put dinner on the table abruptly and my conversation was limited.  Poor Paul.  Of course, he asked what was wrong and I replied "I've been Suzy-homemaker all day and it's just really hard sometimes."  

I'm getting incredibly antsy to do something I love.  
To do something that brings me great purpose and joy.
To pass my time with something other than household 'musts.'

The funny thing is that I just got back from leading a mission trip to Thailand, which is right up my alley.  Maybe it sparked something in me that has got me missing a specified role.

And then a friend posted this link on Facebook, recognizing a career in Higher Education as one of the best careers of 2009... and then I came across this year's pictures of Walkabout and Res. Life staff bonding.

And then there was my recent trip to GFU to visit one of our youth group girls who is a Freshman this year.

I LONG for a job in higher education, and I can't have it here in Longview, which is where the Lord has us for now.  (It's not that I don't love volunteering with the youth ministry, and I do see fruit from those relationships.  It's just... different.)

I have never once regretted leaving NCU as the Area Residence Coordinator/Campus Pastor Assistant because it meant beginning a life with my partner and co-laborer in Christ: Paul.  I will never, ever regret that decision.

And so I continue to wrestle with my current reality and attitude.

Lord, help me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Garden

22 Steps to planting our first garden

Step 1: Kill grass.

Step 2: Enlist help from brother (in law) to dig up dead grass.

Step 3: Get rid of clumps, etc.

Step 4: Dump truckload of chicken manure on top of dirt.

Step 5: Take long shower to get rid of chicken poop from hair and under clothes.

Step 6: Call around to find free use of rototiller

Step 7: Till plot with huge tractor

Step 8: Dig some more

Step 9: Rake out clumps and level out dirt.

Step 10: Pose for silly picture

Step 11: Take another silly picture to celebrate progress thus far.

Step 12: Rake dirt/chicken poop into garden plots and walkways.

Step 13: Make holes for seeds.

Step 14: Plant seeds (these are pea holes...te he he)

Step 15: Decide garden isn't big enough to plant all purchased seeds, so convince hubby to extend garden plot.  

Step 16: Dig up more grass, haul in more manure, level out and repeat steps 13 & 14, without hubby's help due to fractured wrist.

Step 17: Grumble, grumble, grumble (because the work is hard), then apologize and commit to show more grace to helpless hubby.

Step 18: Put in grass barrier along edge of grass and garden to prevent grass creepage.

Step 19: Put up "rabbit fence" to keep dog out of "perfect-for-digging-in" dirt.

Step 20: Run out of room (again) so dig up grass on opposite side of yard and plant sunflowers!

Step 21: 1 month later, take pictures of garden progress!

Dahlia (to remember wedding flowers) 

The garden plot.  The first section is full of flowers; the second is full of veggies.

Sweet Peas


Sunflower row

This sunflower still has the shell attached to its leaf!




Onions (struggling)

Sweet Peas


Tomatoes & Rhubarb

As Seen on TV: "Topsy Turvy Strawberry Planter" - holds 15 plants!

Step 22: Eat first ripe strawberry!