Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Great is Our God!

IT'S BEEN A YEAR!  We can not believe that a year has gone by since we were watching people pack up our belongings, load it in a semi and we said good-bye to Indiana!  What a journey it has been for all of us!

Excitement is still the word we can use to be living in Iowa.  To some it may seem that excitement and Iowa should not be used together.  However, it's been fun to see what this state has to offer besides corn!

We moved due to a job change for Todd, but the job change provided time for us together with less travel for him throughout the year.  It has been great to spend time together as a couple, and as a family, to reconnect again after living a schedule that was taking him away from home more and more.

Mattye has made some great friends and I love to hear her giggle and see her smile.  She's working, taking CNA classes at school, and has an occassional opportunity to babysit.  Next step....look at colleges....*gulp*

Probably the most exciting thing we are preparing to do as a family is MOVE!  We have an accepted offer on a house and a closing date set for next week.  We'll still be living in Story City and Mattye will continue at the same school.  The prospect of a home again has sometimes sent chills down my spine when you think of the maintenance and work that goes into owning a home.  We've gotten pretty lazy with no yard to mow, no snow to remove, just drop off our rent and continue about your day.  We have come to a point though where we wonder what is really in our storage unit, and we are ready to dig into those boxes!

Through all of the sadness of our two kids remaining in Indiana, the death of my mom, and missing some dear friends, God just continues to pour his love on us.  We are so grateful for our church, our small group, and our new dear friends.  A year ago, we were leaving our comfort zone and stepping out to a lot of unknown.  We were following where we felt God leading us.  We couldn't even imagine we'd feel so at home at this point in our journey.  Praise goes to our great God!

To all my friends who didn't ignore the are a few pictures of the future home!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Go, Go, Go! Hot, Hot, Hot! Disappointment!

The month of July was a fast, furious, and hot month!  We had lots of fun & we were able to relax a little among the go, go, go of all that took place!  It was exciting having suprise visitors from Indiana (I recommend calling first!), having a planned visitor from Indiana, and visiting Indiana all in one month!  The air conditioner hummed most of the month and our sandels were a staple at the door.  The pool bags were well used as we tried to relax and beat the heat by swimming as often as possible!  Then came August 1st.  It is a realization that school soon begins again.  Harvest is just around the corner and summer fun is soon over. 

I enjoy summer alot.  I always have.  I usually feel some disappointment when it's over.  This year is tough for a couple of reasons.  Having just been to Indiana, we visited family, moved our daughter, and brought back things of my moms.  While sorting to determine where to put those things in our apartment, I came across letters from Vietnam from my real dad.  There were post cards from him to me and some to my mom.  There were Western Union telegrams from his commander when he was injured in battle.  Copies of telegrams mom sent to determine his health status.  It was all a bit emotionally difficult for me...again.

Before mom had passed away, mom had given me a file folder full of papers.  In it were copies of my birth certificate, information regarding my real dad, court transcripts for my adoption, and legal adoption papers when my step-father adopted me.  When I began reading the transcript stating my real dad desired to have no more contact with me and was giving up his rights as a father, it just brought to my mind a lot of questions.  Questions I knew I didn't really want the answers, so I tucked the papers away should I ever need to use them.  It was emotionally difficult.

Now that we have more things in our possession from my real dad....letters stating how much he loved me, how much he loved my mother.....these questions just come to mind again and play with my emotions.   Also, in this newly acquired stuff is his last known address that my mom knew.  I still don't have the desire to look for answers, but it probably would be simple if I tried.

I don't understand why my dad gave up his rights to be my father.  I have memories of a short time with him.  Not much I remember is pleasant.  I'm sure the war changed him.  He was young and so was my mom when I was born.  That can change a person.

I'm so glad Jesus gives hope to the fatherless.  I remember the first time I heard this & how I nearly choked in the lump in my throat.  It still gets me every time.  My step-dad adopted me and fathered me in the way he knew.  However, my Heavenly Father has been a source of strength through it all - even when I disappointed him over and over again by my choices.  He hasn't left me or given up on me.  He waits for me daily to spend time with Him.  I love Him so much for all He's done for me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So Much To Do.....

We are really amazed by what God has done by bringing us to the middle of nowhere Iowa.  God has blessed us with amazing friends that have been such a blessing in the transition of moving to another state.  They have all become our family & we love them dearly.

So what's a family to do in the middle of nowhere Iowa?  I would say there are endless summer possiblities!  If we were in better shape, we could participate in RAGBRAI.  A seven day bike ride across the state!  It's the oldest, largest, and longest bicycle event in the world!  It's county fair time!  Those who know us best, know we love our fair food -- that's why we don't participate in the biking event!  Tractor Pulls are everywhere!  I'm sure we could stay busy throughout the summer following the NTPA circuit.  We've encountered one & Todd would love to encounter more!  There's always the local pool!  Mattye & I have been there alot!!!  Our freckles reflect our time spent enjoying the sun, fun, & good friends!  Farmers Markets are becoming full of fresh local produce.  Everyone is ranting and raving about Iowa sweet corn.....I'm sure it's just because they haven't had the Coulter Corn yet!  It's secretly growing in an undisclosed spot in Iowa.  :-)  So much more to do that I can't even compile it in this blog!  Summer is definitely the time to visit & enjoy the outdoors!

The question of the week seems to be "Are you looking for a job or getting a job once Mattye goes back to School?"  The answer today would be, "I don't think so."  However, since this question is so bold this week and a job opening with a description was sent via email, I'm wondering what God has planned!  Right now I'm content with volunteering at Bethany Manor, helping out with Connect Group stuff, and helping out at church occasionally.  The pay is non-existent, but I've met some great people & I have been blessed abundantly throughout my experiences.  I don't think a paycheck could have given me as much joy.  Besides, increased pay often brings increased expenses - clothing needs, gas for transportation to and from, wear and tear on car, time away from home, convenient foods or dining out.  My God has supplied all our needs until now, I'm sure it will be clear when I quit working for free.  :-)

We're excited about upcoming events.  Tomorrow is my 44th birthday!  I get to spend the day with some really fun girls!  Then, keeping with tradition, Todd will be taking me to a county fair for fair food!  We're moving Jessi from one apartment to another at the end of the month.  In August, our family will be together again for a week while we vacation together and have some quality time.  Unfortunately, school also soon resumes and thus we begin another cycle.  Todd's been with Land O'Lakes a year beginning August 1st.  Hard to believe how much has happened in the last year and how fast it has gone.  There's so much to do and we're thankful to get this experience!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Check that off the list.....

I don't know how the last 30 days have gone by so quickly, but God has blessed us beyond what we could have ever imagined!  Here's just a bit of what's gone on in the last month!
  • Picked up Jessi at Airport (happy tears!)
  • My Back Surgery
  • Mattye Oral Surgeon Consult Appointment with Daddy
  • A week of medication.....totally do not remember
  • Family Science Center (big trip in a wheelchair)
  • Jessi Flew back to Indiana (lots of tears, tears, tears....I remember I couldn't stop!)
  • Todd left for Canada for 4 days
  • Dr. Appt. to remove stitches (I remember each & every one of those!)
  • Physical Therapy Started - I'm a bad patient!
  • Temporary crown removed & permanent crown on  (Cha Ching!)
  • Car repairs for Todd's car & Jessi's car (More Cha Ching!)
Then there's the fun stuff:
  • We sold our Indiana house!
  • Mattye is officially a Junior in High School!
  • Food brought in by friends, sharing dinners with friends, loving our friends!
  • Mattye started her summer babysitting job!
  • I drove Bethany Manor Royalty in the Scandinavian Day Parade!
  • We've discoverd the Affordables Resale shop & they now know my name!
  • Seeing a live musical for the first time since - I can't even remember!  (Side note - I went with a girlfriend while Todd reinstated his love of micro mini tractor pulling!)
  • Buying flowers, herbs, & containers - our deck looks like a garden!
  • Days at the pool & laughing with girlfriends until I have tears!
  • Evening neighborhood walks, holding hands with my hubby.
  • House hunting, House designing, House anything.....
It was somewhat a shock when it was official that our house had sold.  It had also been a lot of work and communication with the relocation company.  It become almost a part-time, unpaid job for me to deal with them!  When I called for final meter readings for utilities, I had a moment when I realized THIS IS FINALLY HOME! 

The next 30 days look to be exciting!  After Mattye gets her teeth out, we'll be making smoothies and getting a pedicure during her recovery!  We have a couple of little trips planned compliments of Land O'Lakes!  Looking forward to a few days at Minneapolis, IKEA & Mall of America.  Of course, there's pool days with the girls and driving 30 minutes to get Ice Cream - in the convertible with the top down......that's summer fun! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Change is Good

Today's blog is born from a daily devotion, current and previous life situations for myself and my family.  There really isn't anything I could say that can be said better than from the devotion, so I'm including some of the points below.
  • “Change” can be a scary thing, although it’s frequently something we want and even demand particularly when we don’t like something about our current situation. Often times we don’t even know the change we’re looking for nor prepared for it when it comes. We just wish for something to be different.
  • When we become discontent (or led to believe we are dissatisfied with what we have or disenchanted with where we’re at), we will accept almost anything (along with its own inherent problems), as long as it’s something new, even though it may be no better than we have it, sometimes even worse.
  • It’s easy to look at someone else’s situation and perceive it to be so much better than our own without even knowing what goes along with what we see.
  • Many of us miss some amazing opportunities right in front of us, fail to engage ourselves with interesting people and situations, and neglect what God has blessed us with because they don’t “fit” into what we “think” we are looking for or what others around us have led us to believe.
  • We can’t always worry about what others think we should be doing or where we should be in our life, especially by a “certain age.” We have to do what God created and called us to do, oftentimes totally different from what others around us are doing.
  • Whatever “it” is that God gave you the passion and abilities for, have the courage to go against reason and common sense, and pursue it with all of your heart.
    Sometimes it may mean stepping out and making a change and other times it may mean staying where you are, putting your head down and making the best of the situation because that’s where you are supposed to be.
Wow God!  Thank you for the reminder today to be all YOU made me to be.  Whether it's through changing my location, my friends, or my heart, when I allow YOU to work through me , that never fails in any situation.  One day I will see clearly all the work YOU did through me.  May YOU always get the glory for every life situation!

Friday, April 29, 2011

6 Months & Counting!

We have officially been Iowa residents for 6 months, 19 days.  We're still happily counting the days!  Who knew moving to the middle of nowhere Iowa could be so joyful!  It's been so much more than a job change!

In the past, I never could understand how people could dine out alone.  Now, I've actually come to occassionally enjoy it.  I've discovered some cute bistros, deli's, and pizza places that are cheap, comfortable and fun to go to - alone!  I've enjoyed watching people & discovering the area which I now call home.

Don't be thinking that I eat out all the time, because I do my share of cooking all week!  However, Todd & I have discovered some great places to eat on weekends.  Some we have found on our own and others have come by recommendation.  Either way, we have had few disappointments!

I wish I could report that Todd's work schedule has slowed down a bit, but that's not the case.  He's still working crazy hours, 6 days a week, but he's been home every night.  There's something to say about the fact he's home to kiss me goodnight and goodbye in the morning.

Mattye is working at the local cafe, making new friends, and becoming a coffee shopaholic.  There are more choices here than just Starbucks......glad she's got a job to support her habit!  ;-)

We've been teased with days of warm weather and sunshine.  It makes me realize how excited I am for the weather to change and become warm again.  It will be a new season of discovering Iowa!  I look forward to visiting the pool with a new friend, sitting on our patio on fluffy cushions sewn by another new friend, tractor pulls with Todd, small group get togethers and continuing the blessings of the move.  It's been so much more than a job change!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Alone, Quiet, & Calm

Be still, and know that I am God

As we've been nestled in Iowa for 5 months now, it seems I've had a lot of time alone.  Oddly enough, we moved so Todd had less travel & we had more time together.  Our time together has been great, but my days have sometimes been lonely as Mattye is at school & Todd is at work.

I looked for jobs because I qualified to apply.  I went on interviews, I received notifications they had hired someone else.  I had a great interview, but I had an even greater conviction to not work full time.  For 16 years, I have been fortunate enough to work part time and be available for my kids.  While it's just Mattye coming home from school now, I still felt it was important to be home for her.  Todd & I discussed our options, I withdrew my applications, and I left it up to God to lead me where he needs me.

Knowing that I could not literally stay home, I began volunteering 2 days a week at the local nursing home.  How fantastic that has been!  Such great staff, residents and what an awesome program of activities they have.  I have been truely blessed by this experience.

The other 3 days of the work/school week were often a challenge for me.  I hate being alone.  I have gotten to know people who I call friends, but they work too.  There were days where getting out of bed seemed pointless because I had nothing to do.  Then God put someone in my life to share with and help guide through this period in her life.  In reality, this was just as much for me as it was for her.

Todd's "busy season" began much earlier than in years past.  He's been leaving home around 5 a.m. and getting home around 8 p.m.  Needless to say, he's very tired & our time together consists of him eating & preparing for bed.  When the weekend comes, he's been working Saturday physically at the office, or at home.  I've really struggled with this.  When he traveled overnight, I knew he wouldn't be home.  Now, I sit & wait ready for him to come home with so much to say, things I'd like to do, but he's often too tired for my pent up energy.

In the quiet, alone, & calmness of our apartment, God began to change my heart to be content.  God changed my attitude about Todd's work schedule.  What a blessing to have a job to provide for our needs so I can provide for our family household needs.  I've rediscovered my joy of cooking & baking.  Our laundry is rarely ever in massive piles.  I have pride in a clean home.  My job now is to serve our household & see the needs of others.  This should have always been my job.  Life & it's busyiness often clouded this judgement.

I spent a day this week totally by myself.  Wearing my favorite shoes, enjoying the sunshine, dining out alone, walking shops, watching people.  How happy I was at the end of the day & filled with joy!  Letting go and letting God work on me while I'm alone, quiet and calm is so much better than letting satan make me feel pitiful & have no self worth.  I knew I was designed to be better than that.

Passion - 32 Second Video of 22,000 College Students Crying out to God

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Transparent  trans-pair-uhnt  easily seen through, recognized, or detected

It's February and I'm talking about my New Year's Resolution.  From the website,

“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.

It didn't take me long to come up with my one word - TRANSPARENT, easily seen through, recognized, or detected.  I chose this word for many reasons.  Here are just a few:

  1. I dislike people who pretend to be something they are not.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have an uncanny sense of people.  I believe it can be called discernment.  However you classify it, it's not always a great thing.   Sadly, my first sense of people have been proven true time and time again.  Happily, that sense of people has gained me great friends.
  2. If you want to honestly know something, I will tell you.  Beware, you may not like the answer, but it will be as honest as I can get.
  3. I have told many people my life is like an open book.  I'll share my past, my present, my frustrations, my money woes, stories of my children, my family, and anything else you want to talk about.
I haven't always been this way & spent many years pretending to be a person I wasn't.  I've lied, twisted the truth to avoid conflict, or said what I think you want to hear.  I told many people about my life story, but I haven't told a lot of people about Jesus.

You may think that by my words or actions you've seen, that isn't true.  I know in my heart I have missed many opportunities that have been presented.  The missed chances were not because I wasn't aware.  I chose to ignore them because I was in a hurry, tired, or didn't want to be bothered at that very moment.

I can't change people who pretend to be someone they aren't.  I can share with them that Jesus can mold them into His perfect image.  I will continue to honestly answer, but I can choose to be quick to listen & slow to speak.  My life has been created by Jesus to use for His glory.  I will continue to share stories of my past & my present as I share about how God continues to use these situations and circumstances to work through me.

I want it to be transparent that I am a follower of Christ.  I think this resolution will be so much better than eating healthy & exercising!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.   Phil. 1:27

You may be familiar with the poem "The Dash".  It begins.....

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the the end.
 He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the “dash” between those years.

 For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth. 

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars...the house...the cash, what matters is how we live and love and how we spend our “dash”.  The poem continues.

Spending time with my mother in the last days of her earthly journey, I've been reflecting on "the dash" of my mother.  Looking through pictures of my mom, there are snapshots of her as a child on the farm, holding me as child, her with my children, trips she has taken, friends she has made, NASCAR races she attended, and her favorite Purdue player signing her jersey. Photos of the Cancer Support Group, Relay for Life events, Camp Bluebird, scrapbooking, quilting, gardening and it goes on and on.  I'm sure there are many years I haven't even looked at yet because we went through a "slide" phase!

A snapshot in my mind is the time when my mom told me about Jesus.  I was probably in 3rd grade & I remember her telling me about Jesus and how He will return someday.  The thought of the dead rising from their graves & people just vanishing scared me!  I don't think she knows that it caused me to not sleep a lot of nights!  She got out the Bible and showed me Revelations.  She was preaching Hell, Fire & Brimstone to a 8 year old!  While it may not have made me make a life changing decision at that moment, I still remember it to this day.

I'm sure many people have stories about my mother.  My mom has lived her life with much grace and humbleness.  I have rarely heard her complain.  She's done many things without grumbling.  She's considered others before herself & loved many along the way.  In her final days, she's continuing to live gracefully.  May God bring her the peace she needs & the comfort she deserves.

The poem ends....

So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your “dash”?

I want to live my dash loving God.  I want God to be the difference in my life that makes a difference for generations to come.   It's never too late for you to make a difference in your life & family.  Humble yourself before God, cry out for forgiveness. We are all sinners but God's love is a love that never fails.