Monthly Archives: August 2014

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) 🙂 was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

Why I Won’t Be Doing The #icebucketchallenge

water

Time reported yesterday that since the start of the Ice Bucket Challenge a few short weeks ago more than $80 Million dollars has been raised with the help of over 1.7 million new donors who are participating in the #icebucketchallenge. Once again social media has had a monumental impact on raising awareness for a cause.

The reality is that this challenge has brought massive attention to ALS and hopefully an understanding about what those who have ALS go through on a daily basis. All of that is good. It is.

My best friend Karlena also had a neuromuscular disease. Not as well known as ALS, Karlena had Ataxia and it had similar effects on her body. At the age of 27 she started showing her first “symptoms” of the disease when the gate in her walk changed. She initially needed assistance with a cane and then progressed quickly to a scooter/wheelchair.

Talking became more and more difficult, as well as eating and swallowing. Towards the end of her life at the age of 35, Karlena weighed a little less than 100 pounds, was fed by a feeding tube, had a pump the size of a hockey puck installed in her abdomen that delivered pain meds to her spasming muscles and relied on others to bathe and dress her.

It was difficult to watch her continue to deteriorate. I saw it less than her family did, obviously, but it was heartbreaking. She had an amazing faith through all of it and she is missed terribly.

When I first started seeing the #icebucketchallenge come through my FB news feed, I wasn’t sure what to think. If I am honest, I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get tagged to do the challenge because there wasn’t anything appealing about dumping ice cold water over my head and making a video of it.

It was as though every other post in my feed is a video of someone else participating in the challenge.

And something started stiring in my spirit a little. I saw the picture I posted above and it stuck with me.

One of the videos I watched showed a son taking care of his mother, she reminded me of Karlena. I thought that if I was tagged maybe I could do the challenge to honor her and donate to the Ataxia foundation instead.

According to the ALS website, approximately 5600 people are diagnosed each year. And it is estimated that at any given time 30,000 Americans may have the disease.

Knowing how it was for Karlena and her family, this is heartbreaking. And my prayers go out to those families. I have such respect for the men, women and parents that take care of and watch their loved ones suffer with these types of diseases.

So I really mean no disrespect. But, I can’t help but feel that maybe we could use our social media influence and impact so many more for the greater good.

According to the facts on Water.org, 3.4 million people die each year from water-related illnesses. 

780 million people lack access to clean water.

Let me ask you this, did you worry about the cleanliness of the water you drank or bathed in this morning? I didn’t….

“An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.”  water.org

These statistics are staggering to me.

And I wonder what would happen if some famous celebrity or athlete were to tweet or hashtag a challenge that would bring awareness to the overwhelming crisis of poverty that exists in our world today?

Would it become an internet sensation like the #icebucketchallenge is?

Would people rally behind it? Imagine what $80 million dollars could do in helping bring clean water wells to impoverished communities.

Please hear me on this, I don’t have any problem with people who have done, or will do the #icebucketchallenge. If you believe in the cause and want to help raise awareness, then go for it.

My son did it, people in my church and my community have done the challenge. I was nominated by dear friends whom participated in the challenge and who I love and respect. And that is OK, I do not want to come off as though I have all the answers, because I don’t.

My biggest fear in writing this post is that someone may feel as though I am trying to say that the people who suffer with ALS are not worth this…that isn’t how I feel at all. I know the pain of loss firsthand, if I could have fixed things for Karlena I would have. I guess I would just love to see such an enormous social media movement like this happen that impacts the world.

Let’s use social media and end poverty.

Let’s tweet and raise awareness for the people that don’t have access to the internet, medical research and clean water.

Let’s create a hashtag, or a challenge that brings more awareness to the millions of people that are denied the very basic of needs to survive each day.

Be aware, be in prayer, and ask how you might make a difference…in all that you do!

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. I know that tomorrow I will get up and take a 10 minute shower. Someone in my family will probably throw away food that they don’t want to finish. I will take for granted all of the lavish things that surround me and whine when my internet is down for 2 days.

Yep, I am a huge hypocrite.

I can blog about injustice and poverty, but until I do something about it, I am all talk and no action.

So this time, instead of doing the #icebucketchallenge and donating to the ALS foundation, I am going to seek to get involved with an organization that helps provide clean water wells. I haven’t had a chance to research all of the sites yet – so if you know of one that is good please let me know.

Until the day that all of poor are helped, our hungry are fed, our thirsty are given clean water and our sick are healed we must keep fighting. Entering the fight with you.

Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Photo Credit: Postmemes.com

Lessons Learned From Canning Tomatoes

Tomato crop

This was only half of the tomato crop that I got to deal with this past Saturday. About a week before that I had mentioned to Dominic that we really needed to get out and pick our tomatoes, so he did just that and then they sat on my kitchen counter mocking me for a week.

Did you know that tomatoes can mock?? They do, I have seen it first hand! 😉

I knew that if I didn’t do something with them on Saturday they would spoil. Initially I thought that I would make homemade spaghetti sauce and bought all of the ingredients at the store to do so, but when I got home our internet was down (and stayed down for 2 days!!) and searching  for a recipe on my phone proved difficult. And as a side note….what I could read on my phone was conflicting regarding the safety of canning spaghetti sauce because of the acidity levels etc….can anyone confirm/deny that?? I would still like to do it if it is safe!

Anyways, back to my afternoon. I started at about 1pm, getting everything set up so I could blanche and peel the tomatoes first. It proved to be a BIG job. BIG. I spent almost 4 hours doing that alone.

4 hours people. 4 hours.

Typically this is something that Dominic and I would do together, one of us doing the blanching part and the other doing the peeling. But after the crazy-busy week we had and Dominic on the road for 2 days, he had to be in the office getting work done so that we could deal with the week ahead.

And so I went at it alone.

Meanwhile my kids were acting a little crazy, and I was getting increasingly more tired and more irritated at how long this was taking.

Once the tomatoes were all dealt with it was time to cook everything down.

tomatoes boiling

This too takes time, and it wasn’t like I could just leave it and do other things. In this case a non-watched pot will boil over and scorch. So I was constantly there, watching and stiring.

Then comes the canning process itself. I do the hot jar, self seal method…because I don’t have a pressure cooker. So I make sure the tomatoes have boiled for a long time, then add them to the hot jars, as the jars cool they self seal!

Because I was working alone I could only do 2 jars at a time. I ended up with 36 quarts. Just the canning was time consuming!

By this point my kitchen was a mess. Half my sink loaded with the days dirty dishes, unable to be loaded into the dishwasher because I was using it for the jars. The kids were tired and crabby and a barking dog didn’t help my increasing stress level.

I.HAD.JUST.ABOUT.ENOUGH.

I could feel the grumble come on fast.

Why wasn’t he here helping me?

How could it be taking him so long at the office?

Why do I always get stuck doing these hard jobs?

And then I stopped in my tracks.

I KNEW what was happening. The enemy was on attack, and at my most tired, weakest moment I was giving in.

So what does one do in a moment like this?

I talked myself down off the ledge. Yep, I admit I was talking out loud to myself in the kitchen. Call me crazy, but saying truth out loud in that moment was exactly what I needed to be doing!

So I replaced the lies with the truth.

Dominic is working hard FOR US!

He would rather be here helping, he had even said that this morning, but he needed to get work done so that this coming week was half-way manageable.

The hard work was worth it and I would be grateful for all of it come this winter when I needed fresh tomatoes!

And at that moment my perspective changed. 

Yes it was almost 10pm. Yes I had been standing and working for almost 9 hours straight. But this was MY CHOICE! I wanted to plant the tomatoes. I wanted to do the canning. Regardless of how my situation turned out on Saturday, this was my choice and I was going to choose to be grateful for it.

And then I heard it.

Pop!

If you haven’t ever done canning, you may not know the sound. But it was beautiful to me at that moment.

And I shouted “Praise Jesus”!

Elijah happened to wander back in just at that moment and asked me what was going on. So I told him that I was praising God for every lid that sealed. That I was grateful my hard work was paying off, and God deserved the glory.

Pop…Praise Jesus!

Pop…Praise Jesus!

It went on for about an hour. The kitchen was all cleaned up at this point and I finally had a moment to rest. But with each Pop, I would Praise Jesus.

It is hard to be crabby when you are praising God! (<====Click to Tweet)

tomatoes finished

I don’t know what “job” you face this week. Maybe it is time at an office that is the last place you want to be. Maybe it is the throws of motherhood that has you worn and harried. Take some advice from someone who has learned these lessons the hard way…

Find the beauty in the small things and Praise Jesus. (<====Click to Tweet)

Why Your Words Matter

Journal 1

There are days lately where I wonder where this little ol’ blog of mine is going. I seem, at times, at a loss for words…or better maybe words that I feel mean something.

You see I struggle a bit with this little big monster called pride.

I have lots of ideas in my head, things I would like to write about but then if it doesn’t come out easy, or if life gets busy I don’t take time to put fingers to the keyboard. And so this space remains empty.

I feel like if I am not going to write something life changing and inspiring then maybe it isn’t worth it. Maybe my words don’t “matter” enough.

And then a few days ago I got an email from a friend and reader that gave me such a humbling perspective about why I continue to write my story. Yes she said some complimenting things, but even more than that she shared how some of my stories had made an impact on her.

Parts of my story that maybe I didn’t think were a “big deal”….but they were words that she needed at the moment when she read them. And I realized that is why I even started in this world of blogging in the first place.

Reading the words of another, finding strength when I didn’t have any. Being encouraged by the insights of a “stranger”, a stranger who felt like a comrade…someone who finally got how I was feeling.

And so isn’t that the very reason we should share our stories?!

Maybe there is one person out there needing to hear your story. Needing to find hope or peace or understanding from someone who has been there.

We should write for that one person.

Yep, I have a story. Some of it is ugly and frustrating and downright embarrassing. But other parts are lovely and humbling and redeeming. All because God worked in the dirty mess of my life to make it something beautiful.

We share our stories to give our Father the glory and offer hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

We write because our words CAN make a difference. And while they may not grace the pages of the Huffington Post online, or be shared by the thousands, they might just be the balm for a weary soul who finds rest in your space.

So if the words aren’t coming easy, if it feels like all this work is for naught, remember that your story is just that – Yours. And it is a story worth telling.

Only Because of Him,

Kristin

Strong Enough

Strength

Music is one of those things that really speaks to my soul. I hear and connect with a song on a deep level and during particularly difficult times in my life, music was the one thing that helped me feel close to God.

I stopped listening to “secular” music years ago for this reason. When I listen to “Christian” music I am reminded of truths, I sing out Bible verses and praise the God that has walked me through some of the darkest times of my life.

We were on a road trip to visit family for the day when “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on the radio. It is a familiar song and at times I can miss the deeper meaning…but the words took on new life for me this time.

I know I’m not strong enough to be
everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
strong enough
strong enough
for the both of us

There are times that we are faced with hard decisions, tough parenting moments, job insecurity or financial difficulty and doors slamming shut in our dream chasing. I am sure that each person reading here has their own list, that thing that comes at you and brings you to your knees?

Well meaning people, myself included, often like to say that God won’t give us more than we can handle.

But hearing these song lyrics gave me a fresh perspective. There WILL be times that we are not strong enough. Times that we want to throw our hands up, throw in the towel, and walk away because it is just too much.

So what can we do in times like these? Just like the lyrics of the song, we need to cry out to God and ask Him to be strong enough for us.

I would love for you to join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of this post!

 

Five Minute Friday – Begin

Forest

It has been awhile since I have joined up with the wild bunch of writers over at Lisa-Jo’s place for Five Minute Friday. A time when we sit and write for 5 minutes, unedited. Today is the last time we will meet with Lisa-Jo and Kate is now taking over the reins…I have been blessed by this FMF community and am so grateful that Lisa-Jo followed God’s plan in starting this link-up party so many years ago. Will you join us?

Today’s prompt is: BEGIN

I sit this morning not really sure where to begin.

It has been a tough few weeks, ones where I have had to examine parts of my life and my heart that at times seem so broken.

The hurts from our past never seem too far away, and while God has redeemed so many of the broken pieces of my life…there remains parts that still need some “fixing”.

And to be honest I wish it were different.

Doing the tough heart-work isn’t easy and I honestly wish that it were. I want to be able to change old behavior patterns with a simple prayer. My heart is in the right place, so it should be easy, don’t you think?

The task seems daunting, and I am not confident that  I can ever change. I feel stuck and the words, while swirling in my mind, don’t seem to want to come out appropriately.

How do we begin again?

And then I hear a whisper, His calming presence.

I don’t have to figure it all out right this moment.  I just have to be willing to begin to place one foot in front of the other and move forward. Praying, trusting, desiring to follow His will in each tentative step.

He will guide me, the refining will not come easily, but it will come.

But I have to take that first step and once again begin to place my everything, even the ugly parts of me, into His loving hands. My prayer is that some day I can glorify His workings once again here.

Trusting in that today…

 

5-minute-friday-1

Photo Credit: picturesofyou

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