"Change is only good if it is in the RIGHT direction."
--Winston Churchill
This is the blog of an ordinary married couple who seem to have difficulty in being ordinary. Please join us as we laugh at ourselves and contemplate this world that we live in.

2010: The Year of Change

2010 will go down in the Thelen history book as "The Year of Change". The funny thing is that the vast majority of the changes that have happened this year were so unexpected but have, as is so typical with God's planning, turned out to be the biggest blessings.

If you were to have talked with me a year ago I would have told you that Matt & I were moving back home to Michigan, to my hometown to be exact. We were going to buy a farm and enjoy being near family. I was going to work part-time and we were going to travel to places we had only dreamed of visiting. We were going to go on mission trips together, something we have both dreamed of doing as a married couple.

As I look back over this past year, I can see how God has answered my prayers and I realize how at the time the "No" and "Not yet" responses that I was given have resulted in some of the best blessings. At the time of course, I was devastated and questioned God's judgement......how foolish I can be sometimes.

We were so frustrated when the plan to return home to Michigan became obviously not the right choice at this time. However, we are both so blessed by the jobs that we have here. Matt works with wonderful people at a job that he enjoys, as do I. I love my Christian partners and value the experience that they have had that they readily share with me. It is an amazing job as a new physician! The other girls in the office are sweet and fun and it is a joy to work with them. As always, God knew just what I needed!

We were shocked to learn that we were expecting. I know, as a doctor, I should be more on top of this but what can I say! Isaac has been the most wonderful addition to our family. I had no idea that I could love someone so much but most days when I sit looking at his sweet face I feel such love for him that I could cry. I pray that he will become a follower of Christ and wonder about what God has in store for his life. So amazing that God knit together this wonderful, small person and that he was brought into this world for a specific purpose. It is also so frightening to think of the impact that Matt & I will have in his life. It makes me want to become a better person so that he won't end up with the same crazy neurosis as his mother!

So, the year of 2010 has consisted of a new job for Matt, completion of 12yrs of post-graduate training for Sarah with the start of a new job, moving to TN, and the wonderful addition of Isaac to our family. Maybe 2011 will be a little less exciting! :)

Adventures in the Vanagan with Jake!

This is the story of what I did during my 6th month of pregnancy. You will most likely think that I am nuts but it was definitely a wonderful trip and I would do it again next year if someone agrees to watch my son! :) I must first thank the most supportive and amazing husband in the world, Matthew, for putting up with a wife who disappears for weeks at a time to go on vacation with her family!

Statistics of the Trip:
12 days
4800 miles
12 states visited
2 nights spent in rest areas
1 run-in with the law (had my driver's license run for first time in my life!)
1 shower for me (none for Jake!)
3 National Parks & 1 National Monument
Multiple explanations that Jake was NOT my husband but rather my brother..Jake wasn't too amused!
Numerous animals seen: moose, elk, deer, bison, bears, porcupine...

Here is a more detailed report of our trip for those you of who are interested!

Also known as one of the most wonderful states in the country--seriously! We left on Monday 8/29 AM on our grand adventure. We stopped by to visit dad at work and get our picture taken!

Armpit of America--need I say more!

Not much better than Indiana. We had to drive around Chicago because we were headed to visit our brother Josh in Peoria and let's just say the Vanagon doesn't like heavy traffic and expressways!
We had a great time visiting Josh, Vivian and little Attie! It was a good start to the trip but I think Jake was bummed that we didn't sleep in the van but rather in their house!

The only thing worth commenting on about Missouri was that we drove behind the nicest trucker in the world. My mother would have tracked him down and hugged him. If you know anything about our mother you know that she loves all animals but has a soft place in her heart for turtles in particular. Whenever she sees one on the road she pulls over, gets out, stops all traffic and makes sure that the turtle safely makes it to whichever side of the road he/she is headed. She will even do this with a large snapping turtle so if you ever see a woman out chasing a large turtle across the road with a stick, assume that is my mother! Anyways, this particular trucker swerved his entire rig sharply into the other lane to avoid hitting this tiny little turtle and it just warmed a place in my heart. He must have a mother who brainwashed him just like ours did!

August 30th must have been the warmest days in Kansas history or so it seemed to those of us without any A/C in our vehicles. Jake took off his shirt and got a lovely seat belt tan line! We drove all but the last 100 miles of Kansas to make it to the lovely Prairie Dog State Park which was essentially an empty field with a prairie dog colony living nearby. Gotta love Kansas! Not so much....

Driving up I-70 out of Denver the Vanagon started to overheat which was a little frightening since this was just the beginning of the mountains but after we gave the car a rest and took off the front grills to allow more air to circulate she did quite well. We spent a night camping at Robber's Roost. There was a sign indicating that moose were in the area but I didn't put it together with all the people randomly stopping by the campground with cameras until someone came over and asked us how long the moose had been there. We had been on a hike and had seen moose tracks but no moose, but low and behold all we had to do was look behind us 10 yards and there was one quietly eating alongside the stream!  

We then headed off to Dinosaur National Monument which is a beautiful place along the border with Utah. There we drove the vanagon into a canyon on a steep 13 mile dirt road. When we got to the small campground at the bottom there were only diesel trucks there! Perhaps we should have listened to the sign that said passenger cars not advised at the start of the road! We had a great night sitting by the fire and star gazing until I became too freaked out being out in the middle of nowhere at night. We went on a hike along the Green River in the canyon floor and checked out the pictographs made by the Native Americans.

Driving out of the canyon proved to be a little bit of an adventure. The road that seemed quite steep on the way in we had definitely underestimated but the Vanagon was able to climb up the last treacherous mile in 1st gear and get us to the top of the canyon safely. I was so impressed. I think that my next car is going to be a Volkswagen...they are amazing!

The northeast corner that we drove through was not that exciting. Not much to comment about!

This state has more cows than people, of that I am sure. They like to free range their cattle out west which is a little different from how we do things in the Midwest but it does seem to work for them. We had quite the long boring stretch of road getting to Jackson Hole, Wyoming but after that it was so beautiful! The Tetons come right out of nowhere, with no foothills or anything as they rise up from the prairie. They are so rugged and awe inspiring! Jake and I greatly enjoyed Teton National Park. We went on a long but beautiful 10 mile hike in the Tetons. It would have been 4 miles longer but I convinced Jake that spending $20 for a boat ride across a lake instead of hiking around it was money well spent! Since the mountains are so rugged you cant actually hike to the summit of the majority of them so Jake has decided to learn how to rock climb. He is currently building a rock climbing wall on my parent's windmill back in Michigan....let's hope he doesn't get seriously hurt! In the Tetons I spent the best $3.75 of my life and had an amazing, long, hot shower! Ahhh!

Next on the agenda was Yellowstone National Park which is immediately north of the Tetons. I have now been their twice and I just cant seem to get excited about Yellowstone. It is full of tourists and it has the feel of Disney World with all these people waiting around for Old Faithful to erupt and then walking back to their cars to continue to drive and gawk at the animals.

The drive up to Glacier National Park was great but freezing. We had rain then sleet and then snow that actually accumulated about 2 inches on the road! How crazy--this is early September! We had each packed only one sweatshirt so we seriously needed to do some shopping. In the town of Browning, MT we did a little shopping. The store was actually closed but the gentleman who ran it was smoking out front and since he thought the van was cool he let us in to do some shopping. Gotta love the special treatment the van will get you! Jake got a sweatshirt, hat and hiking boats. I bought Matt a jacket and a hat that I broke in for him!

Glacier National Park was so beautiful and we spent 3 days enjoying it's grandeur. It was our first time visiting and we both loved it. I definitely recommend it but remember to bring your warm clothes. They apparently had 3 feet of snow in mid June and a few inches while we were there. Jake got the idea that he needed to hike to a glacier so I somehow managed to get my 6 1/2 month pregnant self up to Grinnel Glacier on our 12 mile hike. It was a beautiful hike past 4 lakes so I was quite happy that we did it and it was the best scenery of the entire trip! We also drove on the "Road to the Sun" which goes through the park. Once again the Vanagon performed excellently however I should say it should be called "Road to the Clouds" instead since sunshine was not something we saw much of in Glacier!

After our hike we crazily decided that we would drive through Montana to North Dakota. After 9 hours of driving we were STILL in Montana so at 1am we gave up and stopped at a small town hospital parking lot to sleep for the night. About 30 minutes later the police are knocking on the door wanting to know what in the world we are doing there! Apparently the hospital staff called them because we looked sketchy. So, we woke up, explained ourselves and handed over our ID's. The policeman was quite chatty and wanted to know what we did for a living, so I told him that I was a doctor. He gave me quite a look of disbelief but I guess I cant blame him since I was in my PJs sleeping in the Vanagon in the middle of nowhere Montana. Not typical doctor behavior! So once they confirmed that we were not felons we were told to leave, so I got kicked out of my first hospital!

North Dakota:
I learned that this is where all the wheat in the world is grown and also where they drill for natural gas. Other than that, not too much to say about North Dakota.

Only slightly better than North Dakota. We didn't see many of their alleged 10,000 lakes.

We drove through this state at night so can't say much about it!

Back home! YEAH! Jake drove for 16 hours to get us to the Neiboer's cabin the UP by 2:30am. The headlights on the Vanagon died just as we were pulling into the cabin. Thank God that didn't happen sooner! The cabin never looked so beautiful. I slept in a "real bed" and slept so well I didn't hear a single mouse running around at night! We woke up at noon feeling great and went on a 6 mile hike to Chapel Beach which Jake feels is the best beach in America. I must agree--Lake Superior is so beautiful and there was hardly anyone there! It was a little too cold for swimming though! We spent another night at the cabin and in the morning headed back to our parent's house where I took a very long shower!

It was a great trip with my lil brother, Jake, who drove every single mile of the trip. I am so blessed to have a wonderful brother to travel with who didn't freak out when he found out I would be pregnant and an amazing husband who also didn't freak out when his wife left him for nearly 3 weeks to go on this adventure! So many people were amazed that a brother and sister could spend this much time together and not kill each other, but I would encourage any of you to consider doing something like this! We had a blast! :)

The Vanagon poses so well for pictures!



I have been laughing out loud as I read the Huntsville, AL recent farm and garden postings. I was looking to see if people had posted any animals that I might be interested in purchasing (to live on the farm that I have not yet found, but regardless, I enjoy daydreaming about owning goats/horses/cattle.....) Here are two of my favorite ones and I do swear these are real posts!

2 Goats For Sale

2 billy goats for sale* not sure what breed of goat they are( the tri colored one looks like it might be a mix of boer and pygmy*). They are both pretty tame. would make great pets, throw nice looking babies, clean up your land, or be the perfect size to BBQ.

I think that I need to buy these goats just to save them from being turned into BBQ!!!! Matt isn't buying it but I think I could get them house trained until we move to this farm that I am going to find/buy!

1 Pygmy Goat For Sale
One white pygmy billy goat for sale, nice size and already interested in the female goats. Asking $50.00

Does he look gay? Apparently there isn't much of a market for gay pygmy goats so it is important to make sure that your male goat is heterosexual before purchasing! Seriously??


At the age of 29yrs old my cumulative 24 years of education have finally come to a close. I have to admit that there were several points along the way when I honestly wondered if I would ever reach this point--it seemed so far away. But here it is and now I find myself sad that it is actually over. It is all that I have ever known. I have always been in training. Despite being nearly 30 yrs old, I have never held a job where I functioned entirely independently. It is weird to think that from now on I can and will make my own decisions and not have to have them approved by someone else. It is also very scary...... I image that this is how everyone feels to some degree when they are embarking upon their first job. I think that it is just magnified for me as I feel the gravity of caring for people's lives.

My mother in law gave me a wonderful graduation gift. It is an artist's painting of my life up until this point. I was able to tell them 20 something events in my life that I wanted featured as well as cars I had driven, streets I had lived on, schools I had attended, etc. It is a great present and I really enjoy to look at it and see where God has taken me over these past years. So many things that I never thought would happen to me, have happened and have been some of my life's greatest blessings. I NEVER wanted to go to a private Christian college, but Calvin College was an amazing fit for me. It was where I truly became a Christian woman, made wonderful friends, and met my husband, Matthew. I NEVER intended upon going to medical school in inner city Detroit, but my training and the way that living there shaped my worldview are priceless. I NEVER intended upon becoming a Family Physician. I was going to do something much more high profile, like Infectious Disease or Maternal Fetal Medicine but honestly there could be no better fit for me. I love delivering babies and caring for grandparents. I love the continuity of care in the office and also performing surgery. I also NEVER wanted to live in the South. I am a Northern girl who loves the outdoors and doesn't particularly enjoy the ocean. I like snow and adore the leaves changing colors in the fall. Now I find myself moving to Tennessee after living in Florida for 3 years and Alabama for 1 year. I really think that God has been laughing at me and all my NEVER's! 

The Bible verse at the bottom of the painting is Psalm 121:1-2. One of my favorites and my comfort in all of life's challenges.

" I lift my eyes up to the hills,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. "

As this chapter in life is closing, it is my prayer that God will guide me through this new beginning.

Lil Bit

So.....as most of you know, Matt and I are going to be venturing into the scary world of parenthood come December. As a typical type A person, I am still wondering at how something so unexpected snuck into my life. This next year was going to be my year of selfishness when we would finally have free time and money! I have been daydreaming about elaborate vacations and finally purchasing horses. I had the whole thing planned out! I was going to do all the things that my friends have been doing for decades while I have been in my delayed gratification mode of school/residency/fellowship. I just don't understand how this happened.....well, you know what I mean!

Now, don't get me wrong....I am excited about carrying a new life inside of me but I do feel compelled to be honest that part of me is sad at how my life is going to change. Now I am sure that all of my friends with children who read this are going to say things like motherhood is amazing and such a blessing and yada, yada, yada.....but I seriously have a hard time believing that the majority of mom's don't at some point think to themselves "What the hell did I get myself into! My life would have been so much easier if we wouldn't have had children!" Even though, it must be in the secret code of mothers to never utter these words, I bet most of them have thought them, perhaps even daily! I bought a book yesterday titled "It Sucked and Then I Cried: how I had a baby, a breakdown, and a much needed margarita." It seems hilarious and I think it will suit me well because I love the raw honesty in it!

Now so that those of you who read this don't report me to DHR, I do need to say that we are excited about having a son. We have yet to give him an official name so for the time being he is referred to as "Lil bit". He gets blamed for a considerable amount of ice cream consumption which I am finding is a great perk. (I plan on breast feeding so I am justifying a considerable amount of chocolate consumption!) Additionally, Matt is under some delusion that I can't vacuum anymore (not sure where he got that idea from!!!) so I am off the hook for vacuuming up all the dog/cat hair that accumulates in our home--yet another perk! I am thoroughly spoiled as I pretty much have 24/7 access to the ultrasound. I think that I have as many pictures of our son as some parents do of their 1 yr old child and we are only 18wks pregnant! The clinic's new 3D/4D scanner is my new addiction and it is so amazing to see your own child grow and develop. Of course I am neurotic and I have counted all the fingers/toes and make sure that the heart/spine/lip, etc look normal as well. I do think that I will be less neurotic when I have made it to 24wks and know that I have a viable baby. Knowing too much can make things frightening!

So in lieu of going on my elaborate vacation that was planned in my head (and let me tell you, it was going to be amazing!) I am going to venture on a different but quite exciting trip with my younger brother, Jake. We have yet to finalize where out West we are going, but the fact is from 8/29 to 9/14 I will be on the road out West with Jake in his Volkswagen Vanagan!

And I plan on playing the part. I will be 26-28wks pregnant, so definitely showing and I plan on wearing some of those hippie flowy dresses to fully embrace the experience. My only two fears are that #1 we will break down in the middle of ugly Kansas where there will be nothing to do and #2 that we will get pulled over repeatedly because of concerns for drug possession and somehow I will lose my medical license! Other than that I am very excited! I do need to get my pregnant bootie in shape though, if I think that I am going to be climbing some mountains :)

My mom (the real hippie) and me!

Adult Bullies

Today I learned an important lesson: just because you have a professional career that doesn't mean that you will act like a professional and treat your collegues in a professional manner.

Maybe I have been living in the South too long because I really thought that people, especially doctors, should treat each other with respect.

Today I had a devastatingly frustrating conversation with two OB/Gyn physicians in my hometown in Michigan who made their feelings clear about me returning home and practice medicine alongside them. The evil, frustrated part of me wants to tell everyone in our small town about how I was treated but I know that won't actually make me feel any better.

The sad, honest truth is that Matt and I cannot return to the community that we cherish near the family that we love because 2 OB/Gyn's are not willing to work with me simply because I am a Family Physician.

Time with Family

I had a great weekend back home in Michigan visiting family and trying to relax. Sitting in my parents hot tub provided the much needed relaxation. I am finding that I am missing it quite a bit tonight. I really think that I may need to purchase a hot tub when I grow up someday--they are amazing!!

I had a great time ice fishing on a nearby lake with Jake and Dad. I love being a girl because I just walked out there while they were pulling the sled shanty and setting up! I did get a little concerned when I found myself sitting in front of a propane heater on 4 inch thick ice with my Dad and brother on each side of me but it all went well. Here are some pics of our day!

Jake was quiet jealous of my fish!

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