What's saving my life right now

I typically love winter. 

Lake Louise

I love the holidays and our annual winter ski vacation. 

This year, however, winter has drug for me... And since I live in the Chicago area, I know it's far from over. 

Being pregnant, I can no longer ski. So rather than rejoice at snow, I dread it. Rather than luxuriate in it's beauty, I fear falling on an unseen patch of ice. 

Not to mention, we're also counting down the weeks until we meet our little one. 

So when Modern Mrs. Darcy suggested sharing the thing that help us beat back the gloom, that are saving us right now, I knew I was in. 

The idea comes from Barbara Taylor Brown in Leaving Church. According to Modern Mrs. Darcy: "Once when Taylor was invited to speak at a gathering, her host told her simply, “Tell us what is saving your life right now.” 

Such a practice cultivates gratitude and joy, both of which I need right now. So without further ado, here's what's saving my life right now: 

1. The care and compassion of nurses. During my recent hospital stay, I was so impressed with the care and compassion of the nurses at Good Samaritan hospital. Not only did they excel at their jobs, but they did so with grace, capably calming a frightened mom-to-be. 

2. The care of family and friends. Though I'm no longer on modified bed rest, I still have a number of fairly severe restrictions in place. I'm also becoming aware of new limitations, including how quickly I tire. We've been so thankful for family and friends who have simply showed up with food.   

3. Books. Although I love reading anyway, after a week of bed rest, I'm particularly thankful for good writing and good stories, through which I can explore the world even when confined to my couch. 

4. The flexibility of my colleagues. Over the last two weeks, my co-workers have moved meetings to my house, my adult leaders have stepped in, and office staff have simply said, "What do you need us to do?" Because of them, I've been able to continue to work, despite my newfound limitations. Ministry has continued and God has moved and worked. 

503 Turner

5. A house that's a mile from my work. Until 2011, my husband and I never lived in the community where we worked. So I commuted somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour for nearly the first decade of our marriage. We finally made the decision to move near our church (my work) in 2011. Because of our commuting history, we've never taken this for granted. Yet, in the last two weeks, we've been particularly thankful for this decision. Had we not made it, I would have been unable to work the last two weeks. 

6. Mail. There's a woman at our church who's ministry is sending notes to people on the prayer list. I've now been the beneficiary of such notes and have been truly blessed by them. 

7. Prayer. We've spent much of the last two weeks scared... And grateful for those who have prayed for us and the baby - especially during those times when we've lacked the words to do so. 

8. The stories of others. Time and time again, my husband and I have made the choice to share openly about this pregnancy and our struggles - believing that doing so fosters community. I've been so touched over the last few weeks by the people who have stopped, written, or called to share their stories of both pain and hope with me. 

Superman Samson

9. Samson. I know it's hard for those who aren't cat people to understand the comfort a furry friend can bring but I've certainly been acutely aware of that these last few weeks. His presence reassures me and his antics make me laugh. 

25 Weeks

10. The baby's movement. I remember telling my mom nearly 10 weeks ago that I couldn't wait to feel the baby move... That I suspected the baby's movement would be reassuring to me. Then I waited and waited and waited and finally started feeling the flutters. Over the last couple weeks, those flutters have become increasingly stronger. I treasure and rejoice in every one of them. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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