Most of you know that I’m a list-loving gal. Making lists helps me clear my brain; helps me think, and plan, and organize. Once they are made, I don’t necessarily have to follow the lists. It is the making of them that is significant.

For those who have followed this blog for the past year and a half (really? It’s been that long?!!), you have seen my lists of things to do. You read my plans for a “personal year of jubilee” leading up to my 50th birthday. You heard some of my resolutions and listened to my ramblings about “what’s next.”JILL EMMELHAINZ-0008

As this year ended, I tried to join some friends in looking back over 2012. The idea was to answer questions and capture the highs and the lows of the past year. Somehow, I just couldn’t get motivated to do that pondering.

And as the new year loomed, I tried to get excited about making new lists; lists to give direction and focus to 2013. Usually I find such list-making to be invigorating. But, again, I was totally unmotivated to do that type of pondering. (I know, I know…I must be ill…no lists?! How could that be??)

At first I thought it was because of the traveling I wrote about last week. After all, wandering in Europe with 2 of my daughters is compelling. And living with friends in Germany for a few months is exciting.

But eventually, I realized my hesitation at list-making was something more than not being a focus of time and attention. I realized that God has been trying to call me in a still, small voice.JILL EMMELHAINZ-0047

I haven’t wanted to hear what He is calling me toward. It was easier to ignore that quiet voice and strain to hear a roaring thunder of clear direction. As a friend likes to say “first-born have to be in control” and I’m definitely a first-born. And I like to be DOING, keeping busy, helping others, exploring my surroundings, trying new things, pursuing dreams, encouraging others to do the same.

My call for this year? My “one word” for 2013?


I am challenged to live a life full of “being” this year. Active living, not just sitting around; but focused on “being” rather than “doing.”

I will keep you posted on how I do with this great-big-challenging-task…

(Photos taken by my friend and professional photographer, Jo Blackwell. See her website HERE. Specific wording of “be-living” came from a blog post by Ann Voskamp which can be found HERE.)


A Mile of Thanks a Day

As explained on the button above, for the 50 days before I turn 50, I am walking a mile each day, thinking about and praying for someone who has influenced my life so far. I don’t know if each of these people would want their names listed on the internet…so in this post I’m just listing the things I have learned from them. I am THANKFUL for what each one has added to my life!

A Mile of Thanks Each Day...

  1. We laugh together, we solve the world’s problems (and our families’ problems) together, and we enjoy traveling together.
  2. God has knit our hearts together as we have shared the joys and sorrows of life.
  3. I wanna be like you when I grow up!
  4. We have formed a mutual admiration society as we spend time being “real” together.
  5. You are an example of vibrant living.
  6. You support me through tough times and share a zillion resources.
  7. Our relationship moved from struggling because of stark differences to becoming good friends.
  8. You encouraged my passion for EMS…and in the process became a friend.
  9. We shared our kids, supported our husbands through scary times, laugh about the “other wives,” and enjoy time together…let’s not talk politics, okay?!
  10. You are a wise woman—with words, questions and silences.
  11. You encouraged me to fight for my marriage.
  12. You have walked before us…down the grieving road and down the helping others through EMS road.
  13. You always have a smile…and get excited by even the little things.
  14. We are raising “chiefs not Indians” and now that your kids are grown you are pursuing your passions.
  15. We have walked the broken road together.
  16. Some may see you as lowly mechanics…I see a heart for God and a passion for letting God work through you.
  17. You have an attitude of joy—even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
  18. You have faced so many challenges in life—and still trust and love your Heavenly Father.
  19. You continue to live your priorities.
  20. You pursue your “loves.”
  21. Love watching you add new languages to your resume and new stamps to your passport. WHEN can we do that travel book together?!
  22. You stretch me to THINK and introduce me to fascinating new ideas and topics.
  23. Watching you reach for the next opportunity and the next and the next…I realize how much alike we are…
  24. Love watching you move into adulthood with thought and care…showing me changes I could make in my own life!
  25. Steady and Reliable…Glad I can lean on you…and that I get to watch you spread your wings and fly!
  26. You are like me: with strong emotions and seeing everyone as a friend, even those you haven’t yet met!
  27. For as long as we have known you, you LIVE life with God.
  28. Wear what makes you feel good…and SMILE!
  29. You made it clear you believed in me…even when I was a rebellious teen!
  30. You make beautiful even simple things and simple times with others.
  31. Live with GUSTO! (and take a nap when you have to)
  32. My photography improved immeasurably with your advice to “take a step forward” and “take a few more shots.”
  33. You got me off the couch…and doing the impossible (training for a “tri”)!!
  34. Keep on dancing!
  35. In my “dream book” I want to someday see each of my children happily married—you are the first to join our family.
  36. Many years ago you affirmed the value of stay-at-home-moms…and I pulled to the side of the road and cried…
  37. Every time I open my Bible to the epistles, I remember your advice (about book order…and indirectly about marriage!): “Peter comes first.”
  38. You love my kids so dearly…and you have worked hard to pursue your passion.
  39. Thank you for being “real” as you have walked the grieving road.
  40. Your life choices were an example to follow…and you gave good advice as we wandered the RV lifestyle.
  41. Years ago in a small group setting you were a clear model of a servant shepherd and an example of how to minister out of hearing God’s voice.
  42. Your life has given an example and encouragement over the years—sometimes in ministry it seems like nothing is happening…but God may eventually bring clear results!
  43. You have supported me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
  44. You didn’t let me quit when James died…and look where I am now!
  45. You are “steadfast and immovable.”
  46. You were in my life for a moment…and our hearts somehow are intertwined forever!
  47. Because of you we became shepherds…searching for a lost lamb and learning so many other biblical lessons first hand!
  48. You helped tease loose the knots in my heart and emotions so I am more open and free.
  49. You repeatedly asked a question: “Does it lead to LIFE?” which still echoes in my heart today.
  50. You changed your life and your lifestyle to keep in line with your passions.

My One Word

I’ve been reading a wide variety of blogs recently…inspirational ones, artsy ones, Christian ones, and more. A number of them had posts about the same thing—a new-to-me alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t made those in quite a few years since I’m abysmal at following through. But this, I just might be able to do THIS throughout the year!

The idea is to choose “My One Word” for the year, then do whatever it takes to keep it in mind throughout the year. In reading the experiences of others, this focused pondering can become life changing, often in unexpected ways. Apparently a chosen word which seems simple and straight-forward can become deeper and more expansive as it is pondered and applied day after day after day.

Hmmm…I’m intrigued by the idea. So I went reading blog links to find out more… Some links felt like la-la land to me, some were too open ended to be of much help to my literal mind, others were too restrictive. Like Goldilocks, I finally found a blog that was “just right” for me. Click HERE to see it: (Warning: this blog is definitely written from a Christian perspective. If that bothers you, do a google search for other blogs and read til you find the one that is “just right” for YOU!)

This “my own word” blog has excellent step by step guidance for identifying possibilities and choosing your own personal word for the year. Starting sometime in the next few weeks, it will also have a place to sign up for regular emails throughout the year giving encouragement, insight, and “homework” assignments to help one get the most out of this experience.


As I started reading the guidelines, the word “walk” popped into my mind. “Nah,” I thought. “That’s nothing like the marvelous, inspirational suggestions here.” But that simple word kept coming back, over and over. Finally, I decided that must, indeed, be my word for the year.

I would still like it to be more flowery, more amazing, more artsy…I am a dream-chaser after all…but I think the word “WALK” does indeed fit. I want to get more exercise this year, but exercise plans just don’t seem to work. I need to walk forward into some difficult places. Sometimes I need to slow to a walk and not just jump over the cliff toward new ideas. So, yes, there are lots of possibilities for learning and changing found in this simple little word. Guess I’ll keep it and see where it leads.

I’m planning on posting updates on here occasionally—sharing what I’ve been thinking about, art projects I’m doing to process on this word, how things are changing (or not changing), how this word is working out. I’m looking forward to seeing how God uses this word in my life this year.

I posted a link to this blog on facebook a few days ago…and a number of friends have already joined me in this simple but profound project. I’m hoping many more will do the same. Check back occasionally and let me know how it’s going, okay?

It was a Scrapbook “Retreat”

re-treat,  origin 1880-1885


1. the forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed force before an enemy, or the withdrawing of a naval force from action.

2. the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.

3. a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy: The library was his retreat.

4. an asylum, as for the insane.

5. a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.


I recently spent a weekend away from home at a Scrapbook Retreat. In trying to decide how to write about the experience, I looked up “retreat” in the dictionary. The definition gives a good framework to tell you about the various aspects of my time away from home.

1. The past few months have been stressful as we have faced many challenges, road-blocks, and government incompetencies. This past weekend became a strategic withdrawal from those stresses. It also became a withdrawal from action—time to step back and stop working so hard to move forward in ministry plans and goals.

Ft. Lone Tree Gates

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

2. As I left town with a friend it definitely felt like we were withdrawing from our normal lives. We drove over 5 hours to get to the camp where the retreat was being held. (I must comment that as an easterner the distances across this and other western states still amaze me!) It was SO refreshing to have no to-do list, to have no family needing my help with this or that, to have no meals to cook, to have no phone calls or internet to keep up with. Although we were with a group of women and did plenty of talking as we worked on scrapbook pages, the weekend was still a form of seclusion from daily life. We were also in a beautiful setting, with rustic log buildings, mountain views, and colorful sunsets.

mountain sunset

Surrounded by beautiful scenery...

3. The campground, Fort Lone Tree, was a wonderful place of refuge. The “blockhouses” held bunk rooms. We had few enough women attending that my friend and I were the only women in “our” room—just two of us with a choice of 10 different beds to sleep on! (I doubled up the mattress on my bed…much more comfy.) We each had our own table space to spread out all our stuff and work on pages. There was no set schedule (other than meal times which had wonderful, yummy food served family style). Some women got up before dawn and started work…others, like me, stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, working and talking.


Bunkrooms in "Blockhouses" at the four corners of the "fort"

4. Yep, you could also say this retreat was an asylum for the insane… After all, does anybody in their right mind work 10-12-14 hours per day for multiple days on putting together scrapbook pages?! Preparation styles also varied widely: some of the women thought I was obsessive in my organization since I came with just one suitcase filled with scrapbooks to be worked on. Each page protector was filled with the various paper, stickers and photos to be compiled into finished pages. On the other hand, I thought most of the other women were “crazy” to bring bags and boxes and bins of their supplies to compose pages on the spot. There was friendly banter back and forth about our choices…but the end result was the same. Page after page finished with photos, journaling, and embellishments, ready to be added to treasured albums.


Scrappin' with my friend...

5. Finally, an unexpected bonus of the weekend was that most of the women who attended were clearly Christians. I had some late night conversations about difficult life journeys and about how our faith helped us survive. Wonderful worship music was part of the background music—in addition to an eclectic mix of Johnny Cash, John Denver, pop favorites, golden oldies, and more.

Ft Lonetree Lodge

An unexpected place for spiritual encouragement!

I went on this weekend expecting to finish lots of scrapbook pages and hoping to build a deeper relationship with my friend, both of which happened. But I also came home from this weekend refreshed and renewed, ready to face life’s challenges with energy once again. This was truly a “retreat” in all definitions of the word!

Updates on Personal Challenges…

It’s hard for me to believe, but I am already one third of the way through my Personal Year of Jubilee! I thought you might like to have an update on how I am progressing on my personal challenges:

Checking off to-do items...

Click on the “12 monthly focuses” button on the top of this page to see what I have planned as monthly activities. I practiced cello 11 or 12 times during June. I seem to greatly enjoy myself once I actually sit down and get busy…but rarely take the time to do so. It was encouraging to find I could still play well–even with calluses on fingers gone and will muscles no longer accustomed to bowing. I didn’t manage to find all the wonderful origami paper we have stored (somewhere) so did not make any origami cranes in July. Guess this must not be as important to me as I thought!

I very much enjoyed the photography challenges I set for myself in August. You can see my plans by clicking the above “A Month of Daily Photo Assignments” button. I have “bolded” the challenges I worked on during the month. You can see the collection of photos on my Flickr account here Looking down the right side of the screen you can find the photos organized in sets according to the appropriate challenges. I plan to continue working on this challenge occasionally. I would like to complete all the various “assignments” I set for myself.

I have done some work on organizing some special projects for Randy’s 50th birthday (my challenge for September). I need to get busy to actually finish this up before his birthday comes and goes!

If you look at the “50 Activities for 50 Years” button above, I have dabbled with a few of these items. I have not yet gotten a tatoo–hopefully before my 50th birthday! I have enjoyed coloring in many of the intricate pages of the animal coloring book. I’ve camped out with Anna and enjoyed the stars (but was not actually sleeping under the stars). And I’ve sporadically worked on the weekly challenges: So far I have blogged twice weekly, although this is my first update on activities completed. I have walked some weeks, and have not walked for many more weeks. I have been saving money toward a trip to London next year, even if not at the hoped for rate. I have failed at doing ANY aerobic exercise…maybe next week? or the next one?? I am doing better at verbalizing compliments. And I have already started the scrapbook of ME (a challenge for early in 2012).

All in all, I’m happy with what I’m doing. Yes, there are lots of things I have NOT accomplished, but the purpose for all these lists was to keep me moving forward, and I’m certainly doing that.



I have always been fascinated by medical things. For years I thought I wanted to be an RN (until I learned just how much authority they don’t have!) I dabbled with the idea of becoming a chiropractor, but couldn’t imagine the years of schooling required. Plus, like I explained in an earlier post, I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom which felt incompatible with massive school debt. Not actually having any medical certifications has never dulled my interest. I’ve read a zillion books over the years about every imaginable facet of medical care, medical research, emergency care, wilderness medicine, and more. patrol

Five or six years ago, I started down an interesting path. Like many starts and like many paths, I had no idea where I would eventually end up. It started innocently enough with a late-night ski session with my daughter, Nettie. There was a sign in the window of the First Aid Room—Ski Patrollers Wanted. I went in, “just to talk,” and a few weeks later I started the training program to become a certified Outdoor Emergency Care technician, also known as a “Ski Patroller.”

On the way to the first class, I fell apart in the car. I was shaking and crying and felt sick to my stomach. All I wanted to do was turn around and go home. I called a friend instead. As she prayed for me, I realized I was terrified of rejection. After all, I’m an overweight, older woman. I’m not the glamorous, athletic image most people have of Ski Patrollers. Who was I kidding?! I finally dried my tears, and finished the drive to class. I figured I could quit before paying the fees if it really wasn’t for me…

But…I loved it. I was finally learning and using medical skills. I delighted in the knowledge. I have always been good at memorizing information and taking tests. I really could do this!

...then EMT- Basic

And then in the fall, we started practicals classes. Oops! My mind went blank on the first scenario. I couldn’t think of ANYthing to ask or do. This time, instead of wanting to quit, I got mad. I went home and studied harder, determined to not just pass the eventual tests but to be GOOD at figuring out what to do in an emergency setting.

That first ski season started and I enjoyed the challenge. I could have fun skiing, I could keep my brain active, and I could actually help people while doing so! A friend who went through the classes with me only lasted one season. She hated the pressure. She felt like someone could be harmed or even die if she did not do everything perfectly. On the other hand, I thrived on the challenge. Each time I helped stabilize and treat an injured skier or boarder, all I could think was “if I do everything right I can save this person’s life…or at least make a difference in their recovery.”

someday Paramedic...

I have continued to walk down the path I started “way back when.” I became an instructor for OEC/Ski Patrol. I took the classes and passed National Registry as an EMT-Basic. And now? Now I am getting ready to start classes to become a Paramedic, looking toward to the eventual day when I can get certified to train local Navajo as First Responders.

I laugh when I tell people I finally figured what I want to be “when I grow up” (now that I am almost 50 years old!!) I wanna be a PARAMEDIC! I wanna help people in crisis and potentially save lives in emergencies. I wanna train others to do the same.

Looking back, I think it is quite interesting that one of the few TV shows I ever watched regularly was “Emergency.” Through middle school and high school I thrilled each week to seeing paramedics in action. (Later it was “M*A*S*H* and, more recently, House—all shows with a medical theme.) Now?? One of these days I may be one of them! I may be a “medical professional.”

Did it start with these guys??

Who would have ever imagined??

And YOU? What seeds were planted in your childhood of interests or dreams that you gradually left behind? Which seeds, if reconsidered, might bring enjoyment and fulfillment to your life today? Don’t discount where those paths might lead…


Most of my life I have had dreams of new things coming, of better things tomorrow. For years, I assumed others walked through life in a similar way. I was sad to learn that is not true. Many, if not most people, get caught up in the busy-ness of today and the mundane tasks on their to-do lists. They rarely think of the future, or if they do, it is with dread of finding more of the same.

I guess I am different. I guess I am a DREAMER.

Now let me clarify… I don’t see myself as a willowy, wander-through-life, never-face-reality sort of dreamer. Nor do I think I am merely a distracted day-dreamer. I envision new things, big or small, to reach for. I envision out-of-the-box solutions to challenges (even just the challenge of boredom). These are not passive dreams, but active ones.

Years ago I found a magnet with a quote by Henry David Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. That magnet was on my frig at our farm in central Ohio. It moved with me to our condo and later our house in Cleveland. It traveled with me in our RV wanderings. And it has a place of honor in my kitchen today.

Living here in remote New Mexico, trying to make a difference in the lives of people around us is part of living a dream. A few days ago I posted a new “page” on this blog. (You can see it by clicking on the label about dreams on the top of the blog page.) I have made blank scrapbook pages of “someday” dreams, ready to add photos when I reach those dreams (or even just to commemorate first baby-steps towards those dreams).

There is something powerful about being intentional about dreams. I like this quote by T.E. Lawrence:

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.

In her book, Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Klauser states “…Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that…were there all along.” Now I’m not into some sort of magical, voodoo, name-it-and-claim-it scenario. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you will actually get it.

On the other hand, just like when you look at buying a new car and you suddenly see them everywhere you drive, when you write down your dreams, your envisionings, you will indeed begin to see possibilities around you.

I’ve learned that it is not a bad thing to be a “dreamer.” I’ve learned that achieving dreams is not something you have to be good enough for or something limited to only those who deserve to reach their dreams.

I am proud to call myself a DREAMER. What about you?

What do you “dream” of doing…someday? What are you doing to get there, even if it is little baby steps in that direction? Write down a few dreams, or make a blank scrapbook for them. Tell them to somebody—I know I would love to hear them!

Join me…let’s FOLLOW OUR DREAMS!

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