Love and Birthdays

Thirty. By this time in life, I’m married, have a kid, and my husband is halfway done with residency. When my birthday was in November, DrH really showed off his super sneaky and thoughtful side. Before my birthday, I knew something was up. In the morning, I walked into the kitchen to find a 50-balloon banner on our wall and the letters strung to make up the phrase “HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY” (I love surprises). All were quite colorful (I love bright colors, too). Around lunch, DrH was talking about a timeline. He got on my computer, did some things, and presented me with the Zoom meeting…where all of my extended family was waiting! DrH presented me with my present, “from all [my] friends and family.” He looked at the screen and said, “You all know what this is, and Anna’s going to open it right now.” What? Both sides of my extended family knew what this gift was? The box contained BIRTHDAY CARDS (my love language is words of affirmation). My dear husband had gotten a hold of so many people, and they all sent me birthday cards! My bucket was full. Over the next few days, a few stragglers came in and I got to read almost 150 birthday cards! I don’t cry or tear up when things are happy or sad. If anything, I “mist.” Well, there were a handful of cards that definitely had me “misting!”

The letter “R”

Now, DrH’s birthday is exactly two months after mine, so I had some time to plan. He only has January and February left to take any more vacation time he has left until June (the year resets with the school year). We got back from vacation on Wednesday night, and he got his 2nd Covid shot after Lydia was in bed. His birthday was Thursday! After he got up, we ate breakfast, and I gave him his “intro” for what I called “Doug’s 30th Birthday Quest.” It basically said he’d have to travel to each place, and complete an activity before he received the next clue. Going back to the car would unlock his next birthday present. It all made a lot more sense in my head than how it actually panned out. However, it was a great day! First, DrH, Lydia, and I met his friend Boyung at his work and we played some cards (DrH’s love language is quality time). Next, Lydia had a doctor appointment. DrH could not figure out why I scheduled her that day of all days. Well, as we were checking out, the ladies at the reception desk asked five trivia questions. Little did I know that in high school, DrH was in Hi-Q, where he had to study sports statistics and such! No, he did not know who won the superbowl in 1991 (NY Giants), but he knew that the Green Bay Packers won in ’92. Who even knows that stuff? Lol. He did tell me that the trivia was fun! The next clue led us to Jenny, our nanny and neighbor. She gave Doug another present and his clue before she took Lydia for the rest of the day! Next, we went to our church, where one of the pastors did an in-depth study in Hebrews for half an hour (DrH has told me that he enjoys discussing the Bible and such). The clue he got there led us to go pick up his birthday cake that I’d asked him to order earlier that week (because what if I had picked the wrong one? Wasn’t risking it). On the fridge where his cake was being stored was a riddle. Smarty pants DrH figured out the answer after a few moments. The final clue led us to his favorite restaurant, Panera Bread. We swung through the drive thru and went home to eat. Now, DrH was not feeling all the best that morning, but he said he did appreciate the effort I put into it! After nap, we packed up Lydia’s and our overnight bags. We went to a hotel in town! Big thanks to all who helped out in this fun day, especially our parents, who funded the hotel and food for the day. Eating food from a fancy place was nice!

The MN Twins!

I wrote all this to tell the people that helped me out how the day went. DrH and I dated long-distance (between 7-9 hours) the whole time we were dating, so we started talking about everything. After getting married and realizing how much we didn’t quite know about each other, we started reading books like “5 Love Languages” and more recently, “How Full Is Your Bucket?” Being married to someone with a chronic disease is so not easy, and we’ve found out that by surprising each other and showing love to one another in different ways, we can keep moving forward, together. We’ve never gone this far out of our way for birthdays, but 30 is the first decade we get to start together!

How can you find ways to love those around you? Your friends? Neighbors? Parents? Kids? Do you know the 5 love languages? What’s yours? What’s theirs?

Grace, Getting Married, and Gearing Up :)

Two weeks. HEY EVERYONE, I’M GETTING MARRIED IN TWO WEEKS! Less than that now. 🙂 I am doing physical therapy (last one will be the Wednesday before), I will get my new AFO brace the Tuesday before, and I just have a lot of feels right now. I went to my cousin Trish’s wedding on Saturday, and I started losing it at her reception. Totally not the place to start crying. I don’t even notice stress anymore, and I push it to the side. But it’s messing with me, and I don’t like it. Oh, no. I’m not stressed about the wedding or anything. I’m actually quite excited for that. Everything is falling into place, and it will be the best day I can’t even imagine. It’s other things. You know, leaving everyone and everything here. Saying good-bye to my roommates last week, when I have no idea when I’ll see them again. Packing when I don’t really have any idea what I’ll be needing for work. Starting a new adventure of many unknowns. Being able to see Dr. Wile E. Coyote more than once a month because of a nine-hour difference, but every DAY because we’ll be married! The inevitable culture shock that moving to Kentucky from the northern Midwest of the South Dakota-Minnesota-Wisconsin region.

I’m also kind of worried that at first, the pre-doc and I will drive each other nuts. In our premarital counseling, we spoke of examples of this: Say I put the spatulas in one drawer, but Doug thinks they should go in a different drawer and we fight about it. We’re not really fighting about where the spatulas go, but grieving the loss of our childhoods. Now, this is only a hypothetical example. This has been bothering me quite a bit lately, as I see some of Dr. WEC’s quirks and view them in a negative light. I even see some of my quirks and worry about how D will perceive them. But there is this ridiculous word that God has been leading me to, and I can’t really give Dr. Wile E. Coyote any grief. This word is GRACE.

This morning at church, we talked about the parable where the landowner goes into the village to get workers for his vineyard more than once in a day. Some workers were hired at noon, 3pm, and 5pm, even, when the rest of the workday started at 6am and finished at 6pm. The end of the day comes, and the landowner pays those who came last to work first, and those who got there in the morning last. And he gave them the exact same pay. There are other parables in the Bible that make us feel good and rejoice. Like the prodigal son, who returns home after some bad choices but is welcomed home and his return celebrated. Woo! The Good Samaritan who helps the injured man on the side of the road. Woo! But the employer who pays all of his workers the exact same thing, whether they worked 12 hours or 1? That goes against a lot of things. But that is the crazy, ridiculous grace that we so often hear about. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been running the race—someone could have found the race path yesterday and reach the finish line tomorrow. God wants to welcome us all into his kingdom. In the parable, the owner speaks to the grumbling 12 hour workers: “I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” (Matthew 20:14b-15a).  Yep, God wants to give us all the same gift of eternal life.  Are you okay with that?

Talking with Dig-Doug this afternoon, he spoke about how on top of things we are. We totally have a plan, and God has been helping us throughout. He added, “We have each other through it all. And even bigger than that, we have the Lord.”

So, in answer to questions I have been hearing: Yes, I am excited to get married. Even though we have a few little things left to do, I am totally ready. Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I will be starting the adventure that will start in this chapter of our lives. The words “I do” will mark a beginning, and I am so excited.

Love to you all!


MS: The Importance of Relationships

I have recently been hearing of dating woes of young adults with MS. This applies to anyone with MS, but as I am getting married in less than two months, I’m thinking back to the last couple years.

In 2011, when I was at Summer Project, I had a discipler who told me when I was sharing my MS-woes, “If a guy won’t date you because you have MS, then he’s not even worth your time.” This troubled me because unlike all these other girls in college who had had so many boyfriends, I did not. I was…me. I had a limp, and there was no interest. Anyway, I started writing letters to friends, one of them being my now-fiance, Dr. Wile E. Coyote. In writing letters, we got to know each others’ hearts and our spirits. He couldn’t focus on things it appears I may not be able to do, because he couldn’t see it. We were hours away from each other, and pretty much only wrote letters. Yes, there are things I can’t do. But there are so many more that I can.

What bothers me is when people can’t see past a limp; a disease; a label. “She has MS, so she’ll never be able to have a good job and earn enough money, so she shouldn’t even be in a relationship with my boy.” There is discrimination against people who have a disease such as MS not only in the workplace, but in uneducated opinions of the general public. Diseases like MS aren’t a death sentence. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, and even though some of my visible symptoms seem to be getting worse, I am just fine. I’ve had to learn some hard lessons over the years. What friendships are worth pouring myself into? What is worth my time doing that won’t wipe me out or leave me feeling unworthy?

Because I had just begun puberty when I was diagnosed, I have learned about myself while learning about how to handle the MS. I know my limits and what I can do, as well as who I am and what I’m passionate about. The more comfortable I became being myself, the easier the MS was to handle and deal with. It is a part of me, but it does not define me. You don’t want to be my friend because I have MS? That’s okay, you would be a terrible friend, anyway.

It is because of the MS that I have matured and become the person that I am. Those who stop being my friend because of my disease may not be able to handle health issues in themselves or their families later. Having MS has taught me to be empathetic to others who are different, and I can relate to many more people than I would otherwise be able to.

I am so blessed to be where I am at now. About to marry my best friend, who looks at me and sees me? Sure, the MS is there, but it doesn’t define me. I have had some great support over the years, and I love being a support to others who have MS; those who have had it longer than I have, as well as those recently diagnosed. If you’re the friend or family member of someone with MS, one of the best things you can do is be there. You won’t be able to understand completely, and that’s okay. A lot of times, we just want to be treated normally! Most of all, thank you for sticking with us.


SmilesSquared Anna and Doug

Bredlow Family, an after-reunion reflection

In 1928, Clarence and Annabelle Bredlow were married.  The next generation of families reflects the heritage of faith, laughter, and love.  Now there is another generation, and looking around at the sixty-some of us in Iowa at the family reunion this last weekend, the heritage lives on.  The youngest great-grandbaby is nine months, and

Left to Right. Back row: Myra, Velma, Letha, Nola, Judy, Melinda, Pam; Front row: Sheryl, Shelly, Carolyn (my mama)
Left to Right. Back row: Myra, Velma, Letha, Nola, Judy, Melinda, Pam; Front row: Sheryl, Shelly, Carolyn (my mama)

the oldest person there was Clarence and Annabelle’s daughter, Nola, who, at 77, has the same fun as anybody.  Nola wanted to get her feet wet and walk barefoot into a puddle after it had rained for a while on Sunday morning.  Pretty soon, there were a whole lot of them.

It was fun talking with family I hadn’t seen in a while and getting to know family I didn’t know much at all.  My mom’s cousin, Judy, is my paper-editor.  You know, the late-night, I-need-this-paper-edited-by-8am, college papers.  I ask one of her sons which one he is (because keeping track of them is like keeping track of us; hard until you get the names and faces lined up).  Then I tell him who I am, and he’s like, “Oh, you’re the one that sends my mom those papers late at night.”  Yep, that’s me.  “I’ve read some of them, and they’re way over my head.  You’re a good writer.”  I’m also almost done with college.  Interactions like that make me smile.

Many of the related-by-marriage in-laws expressed love at the acceptance of the family.  Mom’s cousin-in-law Dave gave a message at our Sunday worship, and comparing being adopted into the Bredlow family to being adopted by Christ.  Well, I worded that funny, and that’s not exactly what he said, but let’s take a minute to re-read the previous sentence.  It’s awesome being accepted by family, and he was transitioning into talking about being adopted, therefore, receiving inheritance.  Nobody can inherit something unless they’re family.  Anyway, I’ve heard many stories about first interactions with this family: My grandpa Dennis turning to his oldest’s new husband before a car trip and asking him if he went to the bathroom (car trips didn’t really stop until they got there back then).  My mom and her sister creaming her current boyfriend and her brothe-in-lawr at a Sunday afternoon football game, thus getting broken up with the very next day.  My great-grandpa Clarence giving a specific mug (one with a frog in the bottom) to a newbie that visited his home.  I really like these things.  They’re hilarious.  So when Dr. Wile E.

I have inked out names for the protection of the commenters.  I don't know why.  But there you go.
I have inked out names for the protection of the commenters. I don’t know why. But there you go.

said I should ask my family permission if he could come (even though he ended up not), I laid down the perfect set-up (we’ll call it “on purpose”).  I winced, but I laughed real hard, too.  They were nice.  Could’a been worse.  🙂

Fun fact: I was named after Annabelle.  However, my full name is “Anna” and not “Annabelle” because apparently, Grandma Annabelle always regretted combining her first and middle names, because her birth name was Anna Belle Carlson. Out of fun, I sometimes combine my first and middle name, Anna Elizabeth, to Annabeth, to be like my great-grandma I didn’t know.

Also to note: a photo does exist of ALL of us (that were there at the time said picture was taken), but I cannot find it.  However, I shall share a picture of Dennis’s family (he was one of Clarence and Annabelle’s sons).  The only people missing are my sisters, Christina and Laura.

Here’s to a pretty cool family (lifting…coffee mugs high?  But not as many of them drink coffee, really.  Well, there’s enough of us, maybe).


Left to right. Back row: Byron, Bruce, Pam, Greg, Jenni, Tyler, Tim, Jonathan (my papa), and Brian. Front Row: Trey, Lois, Heidi, Anna (me!), Marlene, Trigg, Carolyn, Sheryl
Left to right. Back row: Byron, Bruce, Pam, Greg, Jenni, Tyler, Tim, Jonathan (my papa), and Brian. Front Row: Trey, Lois, Heidi, Anna (me!), Marlene, Trygg, Carolyn, Sheryl


Beauty: The 7 Wonders of the World

Beauty is defined by as “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).”  To end the class I took for j-term, we looked at apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives.  We read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and watched Children of Men, among others.  The commonality in all the apocalyptic narratives is the lack of beauty; lack of hope.  The road is bleak and full of violence.  The narratives end in the death of an important character.  What do you find beautiful?  I have listed some things (because I love lists a lot) that I find beautiful.  These are what I consider the “Seven Wonders of the World.”  I also commented on them.

7. The human body:  It seems that people are always trying to improve their bodies.  And yes, they should be taken care of.  The body is a temple of God.  But can you pause a moment and wonder about its complexity and utter beauty?  God paid special attention to it when he created it, and breathed life into humankind, unlike every other creation.  Whoa!  And it’s just beautiful.  Some of my friends to use the excuse when they’re looking at somebody attractive that they’re just “admiring God’s creation.”

6. A smile and laughter: It is amazing how a simple smile can brighten a day.  Laughter, too, is something beautiful.  A real laugh, not just a polite laugh.  Both smiles and laughter are encouraged daily.  Find something to smile about every day!  They’re beautiful!

5. Art: Beauty can be found in the paintings and sculptures of artists.  A theater house, a cathedral, the pyramids?  Beautiful.  Beauty can be found in the art of creation.  A Midwest sunset or sunrise?  The Colorado Mountains?  Simply beautiful!

4. Words: I am quite taken with words.  They are simply a different medium that artists may use.  A poem, a novel, a journal– beautiful.  The most beautiful words ever are found in the Bible.  And if you don’t read directly from the Bible everyday but only read people’s comments about what is written in the Bible?  You should check it out!  Because, yes, beauty is found there.  (It’s the word of God!)

3. Music: Music can be found in many things, not just a college band playing great music (I say that as we leave for tour today).  The music of nature, the music of the soul, the music of praise to the creator of all.  I can’t even express in words the beauty of music.  It is found everywhere!  Sound in general, really.  God SPOKE the universe and everything else into creation.  Sound.  Music.  When a parent reads to their child before bedtime, music.  Spoken word; daily conversation.  Music.  Beautiful.

2. Love: Without love, I don’t think there would be beauty.  Love is beautiful and it ultimately points to the most beautiful being in the universe: God.  His love is infinite and beyond understanding.  And he gave us the ability to love, as well.  Love in relationships between a parent and child, relatives, friends, significant others, and so many more.  God’s greatest command is to love.  He has given us this beautiful gift.  What more can we do, but pass it on?

Beautiful Cross

1. Christ: Christ is the ultimate beauty and love and sacrifice.  All the other beautiful things are found in him.  Christ paid the penalty for our sins even as we were his enemies.  He loved us THAT MUCH. It blows my mind every day.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

Where do you find beauty?

Anna 🙂


A Little Poem About My Love

I thought I’d write a poem about my Jesus and my Lord.

‘Cuz no offense everyone, but HE is my adored.

I fill up on Jesus when I listen and read what he’s got to say.

My Father and my God…he KNOWS and IS the way!


When I am distracted and I don’t know what to do,

I listen for his voice, and he tells me what is true.

Sometimes, I feel I’m drowning in the craziness of life,

But my God is there beside me rescuing me from strife.

There is so much that goes wrong sometimes, so many mistakes on my part.

But God is my redeemer and forgiver; he has my heart.


When I spend time with Jesus, my whole day gets better.

He is my love and rescuer; when I’m lost, he’s the go-getter.

I don’t need expensive toys or any of the fuss—

I wrote this poem just to say, I need JESUS! 


Written June 14, 2012, Anna Olson =)

Jesus’s Pursuit

It’s the little things, you know.  I asked Jesus to romanticize me (I found out you CAN do such a thing—it’s allowed!), and you know what?  He did!  In the book “Captivating,” Stasi Eldredge says, “Every song you love, every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears has been given to you from the one who has been pursuing you from your first breath in order to win your heart” (119).  Have you ever thought about it this way before?  I had a discussion with some of my friends at how different areas of the USA seem to see God differently.  Here in the Midwest, we tend to focus on his LOVE.  And we agreed that if someone was to sum the Bible up in one word, it would be LOVE.  My friend Sarah said that every verse in the Bible can be traced back to love if you dig deep enough.

And this romancing isn’t for women alone, though we tend to delight in it and make a bigger deal of it more publicly than most guys I know.  It is we (all of us) who must choose to even open our hearts and pray for eyes to see God’s romanticizing in the first place.  He is always doing things to make us smile or to make our day.  Eldredge continues, “This romancing is immensely personal.  It will be as if it has been scripted for YOUR heart.  He knows what takes your breath away, knows what makes your heart beat faster” (119).

I have really been noticing God’s romancing this week.  On Monday, I ordered a dark mocha from the Huddle, as I do every day.  They were a little busy, so I was patient.  When she started making the peppermint mocha on the waiting list after mine, somebody asked her if she had started the dark mocha on the list yet.  She looked right at me and apologized.  “I’m getting you a large instead of a medium today!” she said.  That doesn’t just happen on a normal day!  On Tuesday, it got up to 69 degrees here, and the sun was shining.  It was so beautiful!  On Wednesday, I was really worried about a test and a lesson, both for which I hadn’t prepared enough for.  But, I aced the test, and my lesson didn’t go as badly as I worried it might.  On Thursday at physical therapy, my therapist mentioned how much stronger I’m getting.  Sometimes, I don’t see God at work in my life.  But other times, or times when I look back on it, I see that he did something just to make me smile, to pursue me, to romance me.

Have you ever considered God pursuing you?  Have you seen his romancing in your life?  How?

Smiling REALLY big, Anna =)^2