Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills

I posted this picture to a Facebook group for Bible Journaling a few months back and the response I got from it was overwhelming! It's even going to be featured in a magazine! I'm so flattered.

My mom was visiting and we stayed up late one night to Bible journal together. This is what happened.

My husband works for a cattle ranching company and I think of this verse nearly every time we're in the car.
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
(God does... my husband doesn't)  ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Winter on the Ranch

I'm sure I'm not alone in the fact that I am very much looking forward to spring!

Although, I don't think I can justifiably complain about this winter.

The snow has been... scarce.

Growing up in WI and then living in the high country of CO, I am definitely a fan of snow. I love sledding and making snowmen and forts and the big, fluffy flakes and hot cocoa and feeling all warm and snuggly as it's coming down outside knowing that in the morning there will be beautiful new sparkles covering everything.

That only happened a few times here this winter.

So, I'm left in this place of mourning the winter that wasn't, being ready for spring already, and hoping that this isn't foreshadowing to a ridiculously hot summer.

As far as work on the ranch goes, the guys have to feed cows everyday, they spend time hunting the cows' predators to keep the herd safe, they do a lot of corral work (fixing the old corrals and building new ones), and they do a lot of work around the ranch getting things prepared for the busy season.... which starts now.

We are now fully into calving. It's always fun to see all the babies!
I'll have to share some pictures of them soon!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Big One


A game changer.

The day of the big one.

Our daughter has battled with uncontrolled epilepsy for nearly 3 years.
She will be 4 years old in about 2 weeks.

She had a rough pregnancy, her first seizures on her first birthday, lots of testing and trips to Children's hospital, many different meds and treatments. She is my little hero.

The seizures are normally absence seizures. She looks like she zones out, spots on her face twitch, and just as quick, she comes right back and goes about playing.

But, this one...

This one was on the floor, convulsing, little lips turning blue, mommy calling 9-1-1.

This was scary.

*We're all ok now*

I've started Bible journaling.

I've had some trouble over the past couple of years getting into the Word.
It's hard with all these littles running about to find the time or energy to really study.

This has been a GREAT way for me to meditate on scripture in the midst of mommy hood.

I'm not super confident in my artistic ability.

But, this one, including her sweet little handprints, is one of my favorites so far.

When we were going through our crazy pregnancy with her, we were told we were miscarrying her. I trusted God to do what He saw as best, but I (of course) wanted this child to be healthy and whole and a part of our family.
"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him."
      1 Samuel 1:27
In the next verse, Hannah is expressing that, because God saw fit to give Samuel to her, she would give him back to the Lord.

While we were pregnant, my father-in-law told us that our sweet Little Miss would be used mightily for the kingdom of God.

On our bad days, I struggle to see how that can come true, but I'm hopeful. I hope that people can see the way the Lord is giving us hope, the way He is sustaining us, the way He is protecting her and providing for us. I hope people can see that even on my darkest, saddest days, I still trust Him. I've honestly really been struggling, but I know He is good. I know He loves us. I know He cares for her.
I know.

Give us strength to be used by you, Lord.

"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him.
  Therefore I have lent him to the LORD.
  As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."
       1 Samuel 1:27 & 28

I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dark Days

The dark days.



Lack of joy.



There's no real reason for them.

Yet, they linger.

My children are beautiful.
My husband is faithful and kind.

Yet, they linger.

I have people who love me, bosses who take care of us, a church family that supports us, family members that are loyal.

Yet, they linger.

I feel like we take one step forward, two steps back.
We stand up, and get tackled.
We make progress and get stopped.

I fear hope.
I resent dreams.
I expect disappointment.

I have moments of "happy" that are preceded and followed by pain.

My body hurts.
I'm so tired.

These are my dark days.

I'm looking forward to the light.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why I don't care about Starbucks' cups...

This post could probably also be titled, "Why I'll Never Have a Large Blog Following."

I really only post when I'm fired up about something.

And, in this way-too-easily-offended culture we are living in, I'm sure I tick people off.

But, this morning, I don't care.

My dad sent me an email this morning asking how I feel about the whole red cup controversy.
Frankly, for a person who lives three hours from the nearest Starbucks, I'm probably a little too fired up about it. But, it is what it is. 


I don't care that their cups don't say "Merry Christmas."
I don't care that they aren't having Christian symbols anywhere this holiday season.

They aren't a Christian company! Why do we expect them to act like one?

I am a Christian. I was raised Christian. I decided on my own to remain a Christian into my adulthood. I lived overseas as a missionary. I considered myself a missionary to my college and in my work environments. So, you can read all this with that preface. 

I wish Christians would stop expecting non-Christians corporations to act in Christian ways.

So what if their cup doesn't say "Merry Christmas"? 
The jug of milk and loaf of bread that I just picked up at the grocery store don't say that either, but I still bought them. Personally, I don't get offended when the gas station clerk wishes me "Happy Holidays" instead of saying "Merry Christmas." And, seriously, if you can live by only shopping at Hobby Lobby and eating at Chick-fil-A, more power to you.

Perhaps we should stop boycotting places and demanding that others do things OUR way. 
Maybe instead, we SHOULD go into these places and spread some love and joy and peace instead of malice and frustration and anger that our own needs aren't being met exactly how we see fit. 

I honestly don't think Jesus would've cared AT ALL about what his coffee cup said, but I CAN GUARANTEE that he would've brightened up His barista's day. He would have left her feeling blessed and loved. 

(And, by the way, He totally forewarned us that stuff like this would happen. He told us we'd have troubles in this world. We live in a fallen world. Stuff like this should come as no surprise.)

Our response when we face troubles is to be gracious, full of patience, kindness, love. 

Now, to be clear, I do not consider this whole cup nonsense to be anything close to persecution, but I think we can still think about this verse in light of this situation:

"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." 
                1 Peter 3:14-16

How are we supposed to behave? 

Like people with hope, with gentleness and respect. Not full of malice and demands. Tell me, who is going to be attracted to our lifestyle if this is why we make headlines?

Instead, let's get all riled up about doing good this Christmas. Let's get all fired up about spreading love and joy. Maybe as a church, instead of boycotting a coffeeshop, we should come together and join forces to make sure that no homeless person has nowhere to go this Christmas. Let's make sure that there is not one kid in the foster care system who feels like an outsider on Christmas morning. Let's go buy a whole bunch of those offensive red cups full of cocoa and go visit your local old folks home to spend time with the elderly whose families live far away this Christmas. 

Let's take something that offends us and turn it into something good. 

Spread love.
Do good.
Be light.

For heaven's sake.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weigh Your Words

So, I'm out in my garden trying to prune back the leaves that were decimated by the surprise frost we had the other night and I can't get this out of my head.

I've been wanting to write something feel-good for a while now.
       *Spoiler alert* This isn't it.

My heart hurts.

I don't even know how to actually say this...

Maybe this will work:

Weigh your words. 

Can we all try to be a little more careful and selective with what comes out of our mouths and especially how we say things?

I'm 31. And, I'm married. And, I'm a mom... a mom to little littles.
And it's hard.

I wish I was a more confident person. But, I second-guess myself and my decisions.

Am I feeding the kids right? Do they need to go up a size in clothes/shoes? Should we buy *fill-in-the-blank* or *fill in the other blank* on our tight budget this month? Did I discipline appropriately for that scenario? Should she still be taking an afternoon nap? Is it better to start a family devotion and never finish or should we just not start at all so we don't teach our kids that its ok if you don't follow through? Is the food coloring in that cupcake going to give my kid ADHD? Do they need a sweatshirt today? Do we vaccinate? Not vaccinate? Stagger/delay vaccinations? Should we sacrifice our dreams to make sure our kids are growing up closer to family? How much juice is too much juice? Should I homeschool again or send him to the public school? Is it selfish to take some "me time"? Did I treat that rash with the right stuff? And, it goes on and on and on...!

And, the craziest part isn't how many things I can question every single day.
The craziest thing isn't even that no matter what I choose, somebody is going to disagree. I've come to terms with this truth.
Hands down, the craziest thing is that when someone inevitably disagrees with our choices, they are going to feel that their opinion matters so much and is SO RIGHT that they need to tell me about it with ridiculously bold language that leaves no doubt that if I still choose the opposite of what they say,  I am obviously the WORST mother in the entire universe and I'm ruining my kids for life.

Dramatic? Yup.

Does that really happen? Yup.

I know this is cliche, but, you guys, I'M OVER IT.

I cannot believe how often I have conversations with girlfriends of mine who are in this very challenging stage of life with littles at home who tell me that someone has reprimanded them for a decision they made.

No decision I have ever made regarding my children (or anything else for that matter) has been 100%, unanimously, completely agreed with and approved by every single person on this planet. I'm going to disappoint someone.

It's fine if you disagree with my choices, but please, watch your language. I mean, I have had STRANGERS tell me that I'm "handing my kids over to the devil" and that I'm "obviously not a Christian" and a "total hypocrite" based on something I put on Facebook once.

They don't know me. They don't know that the decision they were tearing apart was prayed over, counsel was sought from people we trust, scripture was researched, and it was not made lightly. But, sure, go ahead and destroy everything about me even though we've never met. 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

Those harsh words - that is the devil's work. he is a master of slander. he wants me to second-guess everything. he wants me to believe I'm failing my husband, my kids, my God. he is the master of lies and manipulation and guilt and fear. he wants me to be so paralyzed that I never make decisions and step out in faith.

STOP HELPING him tear young mothers down.

We all second-guess ourselves enough. We don't need others to help us feel like failures! Stop confirming the lies we're being told that we are raising our kids wrong or failing at being moms!

Weigh your words. 

Is it really necessary to say it?

If you are that concerned, get in my life. Talk to me with kindness. Find out my motives FIRST before you judge. If you truly have a concern about something I'm doing with my kid, ask a question. Find out why I did it before you tell me how to fix something I don't think is broken.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires." -James 1:19-20

I am willing to listen to people in my life. If someone who knows me has a concern, I am able to hear it. But, if you don't know the full story, how can you have such a strong opinion on it?

And, don't you know that God is bigger than that? He can and will redeem situations that I screw up. He will be victorious through my failings.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." -Philippians 1:6

Trust Him with me. Trust Him to make up for my lacking. Trust Him to fill in the gaps I leave in my kids. I do. I have to. I have to trust that if I am doing what I believe He wants me to and I still screw up, that He is going to answer my prayer that He'll redeem it and fix it anyway.

Then, if you still think I'm wrong, pray for me. Trust Him to correct me. He corrects me gently. He corrects with kindness and love. He corrects and teaches with my best interests at heart.

I'm just so heartbroken by how many of my friends feel just devastated by random people who claim to have "good intentions" but seem to have nothing but harsh words.

It's hard enough to be a young mom these days. Why be so critical and hurtful? Why be so judgmental? Why be so disapproving without offering some kindness, help, encouragement?

Choose kindness. 

I say that to my five year old at least once a day and now I'm saying to all of you grown-ups reading this.

Choose kindness.

In your words, your thoughts, your actions.

Weigh your words.
Choose kindness.

Err on the side of kindness.
Be too kind. Be too forgiving. Be too gracious.


"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." -Galatians 6:10

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:29-32

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weed Your Life

I've started gardening.

As a self-proclaimed "black thumb," I really have no business attempting a garden.

Yet, here I am, hoping against hope that I get SOMETHING out of the ground during harvest time.

We just moved to this home this past February.

I've heard it said that you should never plant in a new yard the first year you're there so that you can see what is already planted.

Do you want to know what's here?

Let me tell you what is here...


Lots of them.


But, I didn't know what was what so I took to Facebook for all the answers.
(I mean, who doesn't do that nowadays?!)
((Thanks to everyone who responded, by the way))

I quickly learned what to pull and what to keep.

One of my favorite responses was from our sweet friends and former mentors from Green Bay.

Lydia said this:

Mark always says anything you don't like or want where it is is simply a weed...pretty or not

I think that was really good advice. It made weeding a lot easier because I stopped being so concerned about what each thing was and started thinking about my garden and my yard as a whole. I started focusing on the end goal, my hope for my yard, what I wanted it to be like. This made every decision about every individual plant so much easier.

And then, one afternoon, with my hands in the dirt, I got to thinking...

Weeds tend to take up the nutrients and water that should be going to the plants that you intended to grow. If left unattended, they will take over and push out the good things in your garden.

So, we need to ask - What are the "weeds" in our lives?

These can be unhealthy habits, time-suckers, or even good things that are simply misplaced. Maybe you have too many things going on. Maybe you are pursuing something good, but it's just not the right time. Maybe you are letting yourself get distracted or lazy about something you need to be proactive about. It might be time to weed some of those out.

We have to get rid of the weeds so that the things we cherish have room to flourish.

I've been struggling with my identity for a while. Becoming a mom is hard. You go from carefully curating a collection of activities and experiences in your life to being completely at the mercy of each whim, desire, and need of a tiny human. I've spent too long thinking of all the things I can no longer do, the "me" I can no longer be. And while part of this is due to our relocation, much of it simply has to do with having three little kids that I am responsible for all day and night, every day and night.

As I was weeding in my garden, I began to think about my life. There are a lot of things I'd rather not do. Things that I wish were weeds that I could simply pull and throw in the fire. Sometimes there are days where I get overwhelmed with diapers and dishes and laundry and diffusing pointless fights and cleaning up unnecessary messes and wondering if my life currently means anything at all.

But, since those things are non-negotiable with tiny children, I need to be ok with picking a few things that I do want to be true of me and focusing on those. (There will come a time later on when they are older and I will be able to start doing some of the things I don't currently have time for.)

I need to rip out the real weeds, rip out the misplaced plants, and spend my time and energy on the few that I want to see succeed. I need to stop dreaming about what my garden will look like someday and start cultivating it to be the best it can be now.

And, just like weeding my garden with three small kids around, this will take time. It's going to take time to figure out what I want to make room for and what can be put aside until later. (I mean, it took me three days just to weed a tiny flowerbed in our yard. There's no way I'm figuring out my life while typing this blog post!)

It also requires maintenance. I walk through my garden every day to pull the little weeds that made their way above ground during the night. I know I will need to continually evaluate the things in my life to make sure they are taking the right amount of time and priority.

One weed for me has been technology. I love my time with my computer and my phone. I love social media, because out here in the middle of no where, it makes me feel somewhat connected. But, I also know that I can waste a LOT of time looking at screens instead of my kids. I have good intentions. Often I'm looking up ideas for things I can do with the kids or ways to make their playroom better or recipes to try for Evie. But, even so, I know I spend too much time with my computer and not enough with them.

So, that needs to get pulled (or at least pruned). And, in it's place, I've planted...

One fun thing - per kid - per day. 

I've been trying to do (at least) one fun thing, per kid, per day.
I'm not the kind of mom that is all tea parties and crafts and games and books from the moment they get up until bedtime.
I am an introvert by nature and with Evie's dietary needs, that would just be too exhausting.
So, this is my baby step.

Today was kicking a soccer ball around with Jake, painting with Evie, and practicing crawling with Izzie.

I know that to you moms who this comes naturally for, you're probably thinking how terrible I am for needing to be intentional about this, though I'm SURE I'm not alone.

Now, at the end of the day, no matter what else happens, I will be able to go to bed knowing that I spent quality time with each of my kids. It wasn't much. I know I can do better. But, it's something. They had my time, my attention, my eyes and ears, they had me for those moments. It has honestly made our home so much more peaceful during the day. When I do need a minute, they are more willing to give it to me.

Baby steps. Pruning. Pulling. Transplanting.

I'm going to be a work in progress, but hopefully my life and my days will start looking a little more like I want them to.