Thursday, February 23, 2017

My life 2016Part 2: Without Pictures

For this second amazing re-cap of 2016 (Maybe I'll share pictures someday) I decided to post all of the draft clippings I never posted.. It'll be like reading my journals...which.. may not be all that exciting.

---June 8th 2016----
June is going to be out the door in just a second and I'm sure I'll miss most of it.  If I haven't mentioned it yet,  They put me through another round of training with another department and I'm slowly gaining skills and knowledge in every department on the floor. I don't mind it at all, in fact it makes me feel very important to be so well rounded and having people who've been here for years coming to me with their questions. 

It has been stressful in its own way, however, and it is exceedingly depressing to see my productivity numbers on the floor as I struggle to navigate the 6 new systems and 4 excel spreadsheets necessary to do this new line of work in which I am isolated from my co-workers and my interaction with my trainer is very minimal. My boss has informed me that once I am up-to-speed in this area he will have me begin training more of my own team. I appreciate their confidence in my ability to learn and teach, but I'm learning I tend to come down hard on myself for feeling inadequate for the position.

June 26: 

I figured I'd barely get a post in for June but I had no idea I'd be sliding it in at the very last minute.

A couple of my friends have gotten married which has made for road trips and full weekends and then more road trips for non-wedding related adventures.

Aye yi yi.. You might think I'm sitting down to write because things have slowed down and I have a moment, but nothing has slowed down and it shan't slow down any time soon. I'm mostly 'ok' with that. The most difficult thing is that it takes me away from my church family and community, but I've been working on fitting in more fellowship in the weekday evenings.

It's been good, though.

The Lord is good. I've been learning a lot about the need to be intentional with the Lord and pursue him with more than just "spare moments."

-----August 17th 2016-----

My blog seems to be a once-a-month edition lately. BUT! Hopefully that means every edition I type out is worth the read, right?

Everyone is saying it's the end of summer and school is starting and all of those things that would make me mourn the sunshine. But, honestly, This month is no different than April and I get to enjoy the sunshine the same amount. 

It's Iowa State Fair season, as well. I never went to the fair growing up but I don't think that's a bad thing as I doubt I would have known how to appreciate it fully. Plus, my childhood was so full of all its own exciting things, I would have just burnt out my joy of the fair on being hot, tired, and cranky. 

Anyways, I digress. July was full, guys. I drove home a lot, I traveled to Wisconsin and spent a wonderful week in the Word with my family, I hiked, I swam, I sailed, I worked. 

I still have my weekends filled with many things to look forward to, but I tell you what, they don't tell you about the part of adulthood where you wake up alone, go to work, come home to your empty house, make yourself dinner (Or just graze on grapes and crackers), wash dishes, do laundry, go to bed,  and repeat. 

Granted, some people out there are thinking, "That sounds amazing! To just have your own self to worry about and you just do what ever you want. " I mean, I'm thankful for the season. I'm thankful that when I need to do laundry, I do the laundry. When I need to do dishes, I do dishes. I'm aware of it being a blessing just in itself. I'm just saying, for an extrovert, it's an empty sort of existence. Or maybe not empty... lonely would be more accurate. 

And I COULD be entertaining people and having them fill my living room and partying with me late into the nights. But, actually, life is exhausting and I like to be in bed by 10pm. And then I protect the precious 5 hours of life that I live between getting off work and going to bed. 5 hours, guys. That's a small window to make responsible decisions. :/

But God is good. God is SO good. I use one night for Bible study, one night for discipleship. And I have two free nights for fellowship and one free night for laundry.

------09/22/2016-----When I started this blog I wanted it to be mostly deep thoughtsy and nothing too personal... not too much of ME but more of what God is doing in me. 

However, today is a spew blog... One where I just type out all my thoughts like a diary and you can grab some popcorn and read up on all of the gory details. 

I'm stressed. I hadn't realized it until yesterday.. or the day before.. But I'm coming toward panic mode. (trying to breathe). 

Here's about my life: 

Coming this Friday. I'm ABOUT to sleep in my bed 6 consecutive nights in a row for the first time in over a month. Before that it was several months. I usually manage 5 nights in my usual bed and then a few somewhere else, some other town, some other state. I still travel. I thought it was just a summer thing... it's not. It might be pretty consistent for who-knows-how long. 

It's usually only 2-3hrs drive to wherever my weekend adventure is, so it's pretty easy peasy. ALTHOUGH, I've met people who drive 2 hours and are done traveling for months (They don't even have kids). 

**Diclaimer** Traveling is not the stress in my life. Traveling, leaving, being with humans is the calm in my life. 

In a few short months.. like two, people will remember to be thankful again (up until thanksgiving is over) and so let me just get a little head start and say I'm REALLY thankful to be one of ten children. 
I'm thankful that all ten of us are bestest best friends. I'm thankful that the to sweet humans marrying in to our family next month are just two more best friends to add to the basket and it's a beautiful good thing to get together and talk about the Lord and our lives, and being the most ourselves we ever could be. 

Here's the hard thing: When God gives you a dozen best friend siblings and then scatters the basket all over the place. (It's actually beautiful too cuz vacation spots are everywhere). 

I do a lot of traveling to see my sweet friemly. Is that a word? Friend-family.. I'm making it a word. Friemly.

----October 6 2016----
Guys, I have drafted a million more updates and thoughts and THINGS going on in my life a million times over and I just.. I struggle. You wanna know where I'm at? I think I'm somewhere between the eye of hurricane Matthew and the tornado that took Dorothy and Toto to Oz and maybe a silly silo as well.  Life slows down for no one. 

First of all, I've been at good ol' MetLife for almost a full year now. (Next week is the anniversary). A full year!! Guys, I haven't done one thing for a whole consistent year since 2007. Which is almost 10 Years ago.

We made it through round one of the wedding craze and we're just heading into round two next week. Which is crazy to me. And also the most normal thing. The first wedding was a good practice round. I was in charge of the bird seed to throw at the send off for the Bride and Groom... I dropped that ball down a dark hole. So that's a bummer. BUT! They managed to get married and as far as I know.. nothing else was half so disastrous.

-----11/07/2016------I feel like it is cliché to keep on talking about how quickly is flown by this year. But it is November now, 2016 is wrapping itself up for Christmas and soon we'll all be regretting our holiday indulgences and resolving to work out more often and eat less sugar and maybe wash your sheets more frequently than you currently do. 

For all of the forgotten New Years resolutions I have every year, ( I still have not memorized all of Romans Chapter 8 :/) when I get to this part of the year, I am increasingly more thankful for everything a year entails. 

Januaries typically begin with the post-holiday depression and general complaint that it's too cold and can stop snowing and bring in Spring ASAP. February rolls in WAY TOO QUICKLY as my list of Valentines recipients grows longer and longer and hand-fashioning 30 some goofy poems and pictures seems to catch me off guard by Feb 11th when I'm staying up til 1am trying to finish all my projects. 

March never comes fast enough and stays way too long, giving teases of Spring and then dumping more snow on us when we're not expecting it. April and May seem to be like Spring stuck in slow motion and then June-August are usually out-of-control packed full of traveling, camping, hiking, road trips and adventure. September and October are usually filled with Fall things like apple orchards, pumpkins and corn mazes. This year, of course, it was more filled with wedding weekends, but I still managed THREE apple orchards and two corn mazes. 

And that brings us to now. Now when I glide for the two or three weeks before I get to go home to my family and smell the fire in the wood stove as I wake up in my sister's bed and we wander down stairs for coffee. We don't have any unique Thanksgiving-specific traditions. No one passes around a corn-cob and shares what they're thankful for or anything like that. But I think that's because any time home, whether in February, July or December, it is often discussed how thankful we are for each other and for our home and our friends.

It's the day after Thanksgiving and for the first time in my 25 years of life, I'm not with a single member of my family. I'm on lunch break from work where I have been sitting at my desk on hold for long amounts of time. 

I was able to be home for Thanksgiving Day and I hugged everyone goodbye last night, assuring them I'd be back in as close to 24 hours as possible. Which, that was actually really depressing because, in my family, we can do a lot of things with 24 hours. A lot of laughing, a lot of hugging and cuddling and coffee and games and stories and tea. Pots and pots and pots of tea, which, we drink out of tea cups with saucers. (We hold to our European heritage like we lived in Buckingham Palace). 

While listening to Christmas music on my drive back to Des Moines last night, I contemplated how many people hate Christmas music before it even starts because it's "Over-played." but I realized that I have the very fondest memories surrounding Christmas and all of the songs bring the warmest memories. 


AND then Christmas happened. Which was beautiful all in and of itself. And new years and then came 2017. There's lots to tell and you'll probably find things out if you stay tuned... I might just revive this blog yet!


Upcoming Blog works: 

Where's Waldo and Where Does the Red Fern Grow are being blended together in an epic tale of "What's Fern's Life" .. to be completed eventually.

Rumor Has it :: A full detailed explanation on confusing and misleading pictures featured on facebook of Fern and some guy.. This blog answers those subtle questions like "Are there sparks?" 

Will Fern Ever Spend three consecutive weekends in the same city or small town? This blog will feature the ever mind-consuming question of it's truly possible for Fern to put down roots.

------ All this and more to come in the near or distant future that is completely unknown at this point in time-----

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2016 Recap Pt 1

God Bless this poor blog. And my wonderful readers who may or may not still be out there. 

I didn't get around to a Christmas Card this year, but I'm decided to type up a YEAR IN REVIEW blog, which will hopefully explain a lot of my absence,


January 2016

January started itself back at home and all was right in the world. 
Mom and Dad's old farm house had some typical winter mouse issues which, of course, led to a very dignified mouse hunt by my siblings. 

Middle of January was especially cold and my sisters decided to come take advantage of my outdoor hot tub when it was a balmy 2F degrees outside. Our hair frosted and our eye lashes froze, but the memory is one of my very favorites. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend brought a good many of us siblings back home to my mother and father's farm where we all hid from the freezing, snowy wonderland outside and spent an entire weekend sipping tea, listening to sound tracks, and having wonderful couch hang outs.

 As January wrapped itself up, February,  I found myself on a cold and snowy sort of adventure when I told a good friend of mine about an abandoned house I'd discovered on accident one-time. We drove around on the backest of back roads going off just my memories from getting lost in the summer one time when I exited too soon and couldn't get back on the interstate on account of construction.
Eventually we pulled out google maps and I guessed at a road it might be, and when we were just about ready to give it up, we crested a hill and there it was. Abandoned and rotting as ever. FORTUNATELY, everything was frozen as well.. hopefully that made the floors more solid. 

 I dearly love to guess as what made the house abandoned in the first place. For this sweet old thing, I think a fire took the kitchen. But it was beautiful to be sure
Valentines has been affectionately recognized with serious importance by all my siblings and any friends we've snowballed into the affair along the  way. Since it's one of those holidays that social media smears in your face if you don't have a significant other, we've taken to writing eachother ridiculous slam poetry. And By slam I mean, "Your heart is gem but not quite gold, more like a diamond because it's hard and cold." It's seriously a good time. I encourage all to take part in the day. 

In March I went to Nicaragua and tried my hand as a dental surgical assistant. People ask me if growing up on a farm helps me to be tough and not squeemish. I USED to be the toughest and not squieemest ever. BUT get sticky blood all over your hands while butchering on a hot summers day one too many times and your gag reflex is shot to pieces. While I did have to sit down a few times and swallow back all of my dinner on several occassions, God taught me about going where I was needed verses where I felt I would be most helpful. 
In April my position as TEMP at Metlife transitioned to my full time position as a new business rep. I worked a couple weeks on a FINRA project and then switched into working the licensing side of our dear sweet whole-salers. During this time, I had the opportunity to spend my days listening to Audiobooks while I processed away in my cubicle. I got through:
-Gone with the wind

-All of the Chronicles of Narnia Series
-The Great Divorce
-The Screwtape Letters
-Pride and Prejudice
-(Lots of Starwars)
-Adventures in Odyssey
-And many other WONDERFUL things you can adventure to by just listening. (Youtube, guys, check it out)

I also got in some real life books and remembered all of my dreams from college when all I wanted was for evenings at home with a cup of tea and a good book.
Sometimes dreams do come true. 

In May, Spring really sprung!
 While on a walk one day, my siblings and I decided there was a path we'd never traveled an abandoned plot of land we never explored and thus we did. We came up this natural wonder in a junk pile and found it to be AMAZING. 
I also ventured out on a hike with my sweet sister and at some point I realized I wanted a picture as I would someday be sitting in the cold wishing for Spring again. Here I am, this picture gives me hope for spring. 
June came and with it, came my best friend, Amanda's wedding. It was very exhausting and emotional and good. 

And my life changed drastically in the hours after these pictures were captured and life has been a wirl-wind ever since. I will blog the rest of 2016 ASAP, But I thought I aughta publish SOMETHING before 2017 closes as well. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Stuff'ed Life

Hello Dear Abandoned Blog,

Seeing as my blogs usually come after hours spent quietly by myself, processing life and God and events, the blogs have been very few as of late. Mostly given that I am rarely alone with my thoughts for hours on end these days.

I want to go ahead and include a disclaimer, just because I don't have time to sit with my thoughts for hours on end, does not mean that I am upset with how life is going.

I am an internal processor but I'm also an ESFP and so I live my life in the moment, feeling every emotion all at once and leaving thinking and judgement for a later time. If I don't have time to think, I simply move on, however, it usually lends to some emotional breakdown where I cry for an hour or two because my brain is thinking allllll of the thoughts and feelings all of the emotions at once and if not processed and sorted out I become so emotionaly overwhelmed.. I just cry.

So, you can safely bet that I've done a lot of crying over the last few months, but that's not a bad thing really. I learned in college that a good cry does wonders for the soul.

ANYWAYS.. that's not at all what brought me here right now. What brought me here is a profound little nugget that I've been turning over in my head these last 30 hours.

Let me preface: These last months have been crazy. To start, long distance dating requires choices to be intentional with "spare time". Sleeping in on weekends is somewhat of a myth these days and with that, the slow groggy mornings spent with coffee and my Bible and prayer journal and nothing planned. Having two siblings get married in the same month has meant a lot of planning, preparing, and long conversations with people on the phone.Besides those BIG things, I've joined another church and with joining another church I've joined another Bible study. So these last few months have been doing the juggle of event planning, working a full time job, attending two Bible studies, two churches, a one-on-one discipleship, getting together with specific friends on "evenings off" and then traveling weekends.

I'm amazed if I get my laundry washed... MORE amazed if I put it away.. which, honestly, has happened less times than I care to admit in the last couple of months. I've managed to make my bed a few times and call home every now and again and hopefully eventually I'll have time enough to have more than just a bag of sliced turkey and some eggs in my fridge. Grocery shopping is the least of my worries these days.

Again, none of these things are bad. I've been overwhelmingly filled with joy these last few months and my heart has begun to grow at God's stretching and my heart has been dancing continuously.

I managed to clean my car a while back and between my traveling and lack of time, my car has slowly become a graveyard of half drank water bottles, empty mason jars, plastic bags of items passed on to me that I left behind somewhere along with church bulletins and gas receipts. Every time my sweet, taller-than-me boyfriend gets in my car to drive us somewhere and moves the seat back so that he can get his legs in, all of everything I tried to shove under the seat is instantly revealed and I always apologize by saying, "Sorry.. my life is a mess." And he always reassures me that it's fine and he's aware of the state of my car and that doesn't mean my life is falling apart.

Once I tried to put all of the things that were on the seats of my car into my trunk and that worked for a week. But now my trunk is full, mostly with things I might need while traveling, and it just adds to the feeling like my life is out of control.

Yesterday, I needed to get something out of my trunk and hesitated when I saw a young child pedaling his way around the cars on his tricycle. I thought to myself that he'd probably pedal away before I got to my car, but to my disappointment, he parked himself behind my trunk when I went to pop it open. I reached in and grabbed what I needed and looked at him and said, "My car is a mess." And I was genuinely embarrassed.. in front of a 6 year old.

He looked at me and cheerfully said, "Your cars not a mess, it just has a lot of stuff in it."

Be still my heart. I almost cried right then and there. That was just a balm to my insecure little heart.

I just suddenly realized that maybe my life isn't a mess.. it just has a lot of stuff in it.

And when I visited my newly married sister later that day and she apologized for the state of her living room, currently filled with the stuff they received at their wedding saying, "Sorry my house is a mess," I cheerfully passed on the joyful little nugget the 6 yr old had said to me. "Your living room isn't a mess, Pearl. It just has a lot of stuff in it."

It's such a hopeful way of putting it. When something is a "mess" its more of a disaster and it's bad and it needs to be fixed. When something has "a lot of stuff in it,"its not hopeless. You can just take some stuff out and it's fine.

And I realize that at some point, something more needs to give.. and very soon I will be taking a lot of things off my plate. A full plate isn't bad. But, I've been squeezing my quiet times in a little bit in the morning and a little bit in the evening before bed and it just hasn't been enough time with the Lord.

There's a big difference between spending time talking about God (Bible etc) and talking TO God. And in all the chaos and running around, I've missed our hours long alone times. I'm back to a breaking point where I need to just re-organize and have less... stuff, going on.

And that is where I am at the moment. My life is stuffed full with wonderful people, wonderful adventures and a wonderful God. Now I just need to spend time praying and finding out what stuff I need to re-organize.

God is good and I am growing, which is really the most important part of life anyways.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Sometimes

It seems to be another one of those summers where I'm forever jumping in and out of my car and driving a couple hours to my next weekend adventure. Weddings, summer visits, family barn renovation, sailing, cleaning... it's a full one. 

I'm just thankful that my weekdays are just as my packed as my weekends. If that weren't the case, I'd be spending my evenings wishing the hours away to the next weekend and next big adventure. 

Although, my weekends, lately, have been spent sweating and getting covered in dirt, dust, and bird droppings whilst helping my sweet parents re-do a barn for the TWO sibling weddings this October. 

Good timing, actually. I'm getting a new brother AND a new sister. So the Kohl children will now be an even dozen. :) :) (They're cheaper by the dozen anyhow) :) :)

Speaking of us Kohl children, I think this summer is setting the record for best communication. We're all a little more scattered than we've ever been, spread into 5 states and 7 cities, our in-persons with each other have to be way more intentional and our phone conversations are more often. I love it. Absolutely. 

For those of you who have asked after the state of my heart, having been following the broken valley and the slow-incline out of it, I'm in a place of joy. A place where being intentional in my pursuit of the Lord is challenging and important and rewarding. Not to say that being intentional with the Lord is ever NOT important or rewarding or ever easy either. It is what it should be, but I'm really fighting for it. 

I'm studying 1 John with my Bible study, 1 Thessalonians in my one-on-one discipleship meetups, and the book of James with the hope of memorizing it as well as cross referencing my studies into my study of the book of Romans. My plate is full. 

On top of that, I'm trying to keep my schedule steadily full of investing in relationships one-on-one with Bible study friends and making my weekly rounds of phone chats with cousins and siblings across the U.S. and SOMETIMES go to bed by 11pm

Work continues to go very well. It has its waves of complete chaos and overload and feeling too exhausting to process and issue any more contracts and sometimes it has a lull and moments of utter calmness. 

Right now we're in a calm part and I don't mind it at all.

Since there has been FAR TOO much to truly put into words, I'll just include some pictures and hopefully that will suffice for now. 

For as much as I love a spontaneous, un-planned adventure, I always have a list of adventures I want to do. My sweet friend Anne and I attempted to hammock over night in the woods a year ago.. we crawled into our hammock at 2:30 in the morning and it immediately started drizzling.. and then steadily raining. We didn't have a rain-proof tarp or anything and ended up seeking shelter in our friends' parent's garage at 4am. We didn't count it as a true camp-out on account we only lasted 2 hours.
It was on our list for this summer to ACTUALLY spend a whole night outside in a hammock like true adventurers do on a regular basis.

A week before our friend, Amanda's wedding, Anne accepted a job in FL which left us with THE ONLY option of camping out after the wedding reception. I thought long and hard about all the safest sets of trees for two females to sleep in over night in Des Moines.. and it turns out, the perfect place was RIGHT in front of me. The wedding reception was at a camp ground owned by our church.

SO!! After the wedding reception was all picked up, we dropped our exhausted  and danced out wedding-feet-that-had-spent-too-many-hours-in-heals into my swimming pool for a little bit and then threw on our PJs. At good ol' 12am, we returned to the reception site and began our hunt for the perfect set of trees for our overnight adventure.
We didn't find any perfect trees. BUT! We did find an old abandoned tank-lookin' Noah's Ark parked on a basketball court and managed to string ourselves between the ark and a basket-ball hoop pole.
It was glorious! Apart from the fact that I failed to think I'd need a blanket and almost froze to death at 3am and curled up in my hammock praying the sun would hurry up and rise and start warming things up again. But it was wonderful and we were so excited to have successfully hammocked overnight.

Here is a picture of my coffee mug and a list of places to hit at some way-too-early-for-a-saturday-morning time of the morning.
Garage sale'ing with my mom is a highlight every year and I've been able to expand my professional wardrobe with out destroying my grocery budget. 

Here's another one ^^^ This barn. The White Barn as it has been called for as long as I can remember. Built at the turn of the century (around 1918 I think) as a milking parlor for a small dairy, it was a staple of my childhood. In case you missed it, 2 of my siblings are getting married come October and both are planning epic dance party receptions in this, our old dairy barn. (That we used for sheep WAY back in the day and only a little bit for our baby cows). The barn reno project has been one of the largest endeavors we've taken on since Dad built the other half of our house. (Which isn't technically even done, But I aint judgin'.) 

It's a fun project, and we love seeing how the Lord blesses us with other people who show up to help.
(BTW, We'll take all the help we can get between now and then) 

With numbers being low at work, our Friday games (we play every Friday) have allowed for longer game times. One of our FAVORITE games is called Molkky . It's super fun, and also like $50 because it's a European game you gotta order online. So, my sweet father let me visit his wood pile and make my own. 

Why spend money when you can spend time?.... Okay.. don't answer that. BUT in this case.. it was worth it. 

The 4th of July was its usual wonderful self that it is. We lined the curb for the parade and heckled all of the floats and walkers. Which, that's what parades are for anyways. If you're gonna walk in front of people for attention, you may as well welcome the attention. Which.. we gave them. 

Guys, the boats weren't even in the water last year and my heart died a little. Ever since I got certified.. 13 years ago, it has been a MAJOR highlight of every summer. Sailing is life.
I've been out TWICE now this year and am hoping to hit it at least one more time.
I even got to spend some time on a high-wind day in a Hobie Wave and that was wonderful. 

I've spent a lot of weekend at home this summer. Helping with the barn and visiting the humans residing under my parent's roof. These babes are some of my best friends and they're an absolute joy to hangout with when I go home. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Coorporate Missionary

Well, Dear Readers, Another month has come and gone. I feel it is time enough for a little update on my life. Especially for you who, so faithfully, watched me struggle through the months of unemployment and despair.

And hear we are a YEAR later. I have only grasped that concept on account the roommate that is getting married and will no longer be on our housing lease is already moved out and fairly settled into her new apartment. Aye yi yi.. time flies so fast.  So, let's re-cap: 

Here's the big one: I GOT HIRED!!! Officially. As in, the search for employment is over. (Big deal, Fern, you got a job last October..) Well.. I was originally just a temp with a deadline: April 12th would be the day my life was thrown back into unknown and job search. BUT, God bless MetLife, they decided to keep me. And as of April 11th, I've been a real life Annuities Analyst. That sounds fancy doesn't it?? I like saying.. after all the times people would ask me what I do and I'd say, "I'm looking for a job." And they'd get all quiet and try to change the subject.. YES I was fully aware that I wasn't contributing to society. Now I am.  AND I actually love it. 

If someone would told me ahead of time that this would be my life I wouldn't have ever gone to the interview or accepted the job... well.. in my mind I think that.. but I was REAL DESPERATE for ANYTHING by the time this interview and job offer came around.. so who knows. BUT! I do love it. My co-workers are literally the best. They make me laugh, they share their coffee with me, they help me with all of my questions.. they're literally the best. While I'm fully aware that the daily grind can make anyone lose one's sense of purpose or goals, I have only been more encouraged.

Here's the funnest thing: When I was first hired I told the Lord, "I'll go, but I don't really wanna do this alone. So.. send along another." And I know I wrote about the Christian lady who shares a cube wall with me.. but the Lord had for me a bigger surprise. There was a sweet girl about my age hired just after me. AND she came straight outta camp ministry. She loves Jesus and she LIVES Jesus.. and the two of us seem to be making progress. She sees our office space as a mission field just as I do and she's got courage and visions for our office bigger than I do. She wants to get a Bible study started and she's not shy in having spiritual conversations. We both talk about the Lord as we stop over at each other's desks or meet up in the break room or hall way. I'm hoping we're planting and watering seeds along the way. Other co-workers have begun to speak more openly about their faith and walks of life.. I LOVE it and I hope it keeps going. (MORE TO COME ON THAT ONE)

This is just a picture of a proud moment. Let's be honest, in my childhood, I decided I'd get married when I was 22 or 23 and have a man to do all of the things men aughta do. LOL.
Okay well, I DO live in an apartment.. so there is a maintenance man who is supposed to do some of the things a man aughta do.. like fix to toilet paper dispenser.  We put in a work order before Christmas time.. that never happened. My beautiful and wise mother gave me the perfect little screw-driver set for Christmas and I felt like a good responsible adult when I fixed the thing myself. I tell this story more to brag about my mom. If you have a mom who give screw drivers and tape measures for Christmas, hug her and kiss her face and tell her she's the best. If you have a mom who has taught you how to USE those screw drivers and tape measures by example because she fixes and builds things all the time, GOOD GRACIOUS.. it's Mother's Day.. GO TELL HER SHE'S THE BEST.

Okay.. Here's another thing I love about being in the work-world: Reading. READING A LOT.
Okay.. I'm actually REALLY extroverted and need humans 98% of the time. BUT, being an adult means that you do the daily grind thing, get off at 5pm, and ration out the precious hours before you go to bed and do it all over again. When I first graduated college, I was a nanny. And I (Hopefully my nanny mom's aren't appalled by this if they read this) would sometimes be out late with friends nights before I had to work. And it worked out because my kids usually took naps and we all took our breaks together. SO, getting stuck in a ditch at 1am when I had to be to work at 5am wasn't that much of a concern to me at all times.. it was more important that I was stuck in a ditch with my friends. WHO NEEDS SLEEP WHEN YOU HAVE FRIENDS??? Lol... Well.. now I get off work and.. read. Or play my ukulele. What an introvert. BUT! I could tell you all of the books I've read and you'd be proud (Hopefully.) I've already read 20 books this year!

This was a RARE capture of the kids doing what they were told
I couldn't believe it happened so I took a picture.
(Also, we had 18 kids, not just 3)

Here's the other thing: I've been doing Awana. This Tuesday is the closing ceremony!! I'm going to be really honest, as much as I loved Awana the first couple months last fall, it got real hard, real fast and the last Awana before Christmas break it was the roughest hard night with the kiddos. I ended having a complete break down when the main leader guy asked me how I was doing. I opened my mouth to say, "it's been a rough night." And all of the sudden I was crying multiple tears out of both my eyes and gasping for breath, crying harder than I have in who-knows-how long and couldn't even say words. So in a bug-eyed, bewildered, completely-caught-off-guard face, he asked, "We're the kids pretty tough tonight?" And I shook my head yes while trying to catch my breath and when I couldn't I just grabbed my coat and walked out. Fifteen minutes early.

It took lots of pep-talks from my roommate and my mom to go convince myself to go back when it started again in January. And I only went back to see if I aughta resign from the gig in-person. And I've taken it one week at a time since then. Sometimes I cried on my drive home, sometimes I cried on the way there in anticipation.

And that's only to say, I learned that Awana is not my gifting. Young kids ministry is not my gifting. It's been quite the stretching of my heart and DEFINITELY humbling. Half of me wants to apologize to all of the kids and the two humans I share awana duties with and say I'm sorry for coming up short or for volunteering for a job for which I didn't qualify. BUT, I'm prouder than than anything that I stuck it out and only missed the week I was in Nicaragua.

Since Awana was my "only ministry" this year, I've really struggled with feeling completely worthless for the Lord. I think Ive mentioned that in other blogs.

BUT here's the exciting thing from work that has my heart SO EXCITED:

The other day one of the member from a different team at my office came over to introduce himself to the people on my team and when he got to me he asked where I'd come from. When we got to the part where I had studied Psychology at the University of Iowa, he asked what I was doing next. "What do you mean by 'Next'?", I asked? "You psychologist don't get your degrees to be annuity reps you're whole life, what's next?" He responded.

"Oh!! My grad program will be in Marriage and Family Therapy."

And he got all excited, grabbed a chair and said, "Okay then, are you really busy? I gotta talk to you." I told him my case load wasn't bad and he mentioned to my manager he was going to talk to me for a bit.

He pulled his chair up and asked my opinion on love. After I asked him to clarify how he meant by that question he asked if it's possible to lose love. I explained to him the different definitions of love in the Greek explanation and said that Agape was unconditional love and that one cannot be lost.

He was thoughtful for a bit and then went on to share that that he feels like his love has been violated a lot of times and he's been through hard things.

I thought for a moment before telling him, "Well, it's been my experience that as we experience hard things, our heart tries to put up walls to protect us, but those walls can also prevent us from giving or receiving love. And it's also been my experience that the only forgiveness can set you free to love and be loved again. But that's the hardest decision to make, and the one we like the least and sometimes we can't forgive times we've been violated on our own strength.But it's the only solution."

And he pondered that a second before saying that he believes God has brought him through a lot of hard things for a reason. But he hasn't figured out what that reason is yet.

And then the conversation ended as abruptly as it had started. I was stunned and shocked that it had even happened, but it made my entire day. It was a good reminder that my job isn't my end-all and awana isn't going to be the sole representation of my ministry.

And with that hope, I press on, To be a light to my co-workers and a blessing to those around me. And honestly, MOST DAYS, I feel crappy about it. I feel like I'm not good enough, obvious enough, sweet enough, kind enough, or servant enough or selfless to be Jesus to the people around me. But I have hope treasured in jars of clay that where my heart has been broken and re-crafted, and chipped and re-pasted, that is where the light comes through. That is where people can see Jesus best. Thank the Lord for broken hearts, people.

Broken people, loved by God can reach the broken world that is loved by God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Nicaragua Pt. 4: The Big Take Away

I've been trying to process since before getting back to the states what all this trip has meant for my heart. My heart that was so weary and broken and cracked and dry prior to going. My heart that selfishly decided I NEEDED to go on this trip because my heart needed a week with Jesus. For me. I think I've finally realized something big. 

Deep, deep down, I want with my whole life to be impactful for eternity. I want all I do to be of value. Since I know the most valuable things are eternal, I tend to measure myself against my eternal impact. 

Perhaps this is why I find myself discouraged so easily. When one sits at a dual monitor computer for 8 hours every day, moving around thousands upon thousands of human, earthly dollars so that one can have a few earthly dollars oneself, it's very easy to feel very insignificant. 

There were a recorded 146 professions of faith during our days in the village. I was present for zero of them.. as far as I know. If someone decided they wanted to get their life straight with the Lord while sitting in our dentist chair getting their teeth pulled, I missed it. Not that I don't think someone might be motivated to prepare for death when a 2 and a half inch needle and syringe full of novacane is coming at their mouth, if they did decide then was the time to commit their soul into God's hands, I was not made aware of it. 

The mission of BMDMI is to 1) Evangelize to the lost 2) Disciple the saved 3) and Serve the poor.  

One of the things I keep having to process in my heart was how *MY* presence on the trip accomplished any of those things. There was never a point where I specifically spoke of Christ's love to any of our patients. I did not pray with any one, either. 

One might argue that I actually did nothing real important, actually. 
At least.. I argue that with myself just a little. After all, serving the poor is goal number 3 and is not as important as goals one and two. 

However, I also argue that my own heart is a mission field and *I* was reached by all that was done. The thing of short-term mission trips, while they might not even be able to make a tiny dent in the needs, they put deep gashes into our hearts.  The Lord breaks my heart in many ways all the time. With every rip in my heart, He uses something sweet to put me back together. 

And so my heart has been stitched back up with the fabric of Nicaragua. With peace, with joy, with patience, with love. One of our dear Nicaraguan friends who did not come to the village with us this year came and visited us at the mission house in Managua on the last day. We caught up a little and after being back in the U.S. I expressed to him the difficulties of transitioning back to reality. How my heart longed to be back in Nicaragua and how I did have much joy in the routine and fast-paced go-go-go that I live in the U.S.

He is wise beyond his years and wrote back, cautioning me to not find my joy in Nicaragua. He said that even in Nicaragua, you can get sick of routine. This is something I should be so well practiced at this point I shouldn't need a reminder. But the reminder was soothing all the same. The joy of knowing Christ in ANY country surpasses all sadness and brokenness and blahs in which we find ourselves. 

My hope is to someday move to Nicaragua. But I think I should not move any where until I have fully learned to be thankful and content in the circumstances the Lord has given me. Especially since it is different to be on a one-week medical trip with North American doctors vs. LIVING in the country with a routine same as I would in the U.S.

I've thought through the schedule of my day and how little I actually opened my Bible while on the trip. Well, it's not that I OPENED it little, is that it was not open for long and I did not read for whole chapters or books of it like I usually do. Reading one verse can sometimes feel like drinking with an eye dropper. BUT, I meditated on that verse about beautiful feet and what "Good News" was. Because I was just the dental help.

BUT!!! Here is what I learned. The body of Christ has many parts and the eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you." I've known of that passage forever. Here's the whole thing: 
"Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
 I realized that in real life I struggle with feeling valuable to the body of Christ. Having a career and just contributing financially and showing up to Bible study and serving in the nursery and suffering through Awana doesn't seem like anything good to me. Honestly.. I just feel completely worthless.

And as I've thought about my role on the team in Nicaragua, it has crossed my mind that holding a flashlight while a chisel gets hammered into someone's gums does not seem like it is essential for sharing the gospel, but, it was a small facet of the team as a whole. The WHOLE team was important to sharing the love of Christ. AND SO as I've been trying to transition back to the US and feeling like I'm back to being of little value.


It's been a little more than a month now. If I was a good blogger, I'd proof read that previous bit for typos and to see if it flows well.. but life catches up. 

That's the odd thing about missions trips, life doesn't really stop long enough for you to fully absorb all the lessons as you truly should. But maybe the key is to keep on reflecting and straining oneself to truly think what it meant to you. 

Honestly, things have taken off at work. I'm officially official and have the job security I dreamed of a year ago and am gaining respect from co-workers and have a fulllll calendar with social engagements and people to reach out to and plans to plan and books to read and... things.

Life just.. keeps on moving. But, I am still taking to heart all of the things that hit me in Nicaragua.

THE BIG TAKE AWAY that I I was blogging about not being there for the professions of faith and what good was I actually.. Someone had to hold the flashlight for the dentist and help prep the needles and wash the tools and  be there. IF JUST the pastors were on the trip, when would have have been able to stop and preach and pray with the people? If just the doctors were on the trip, who would have hefted the 6 tons of rice and beans and give the families their Bibles?

If just the dentists were on the trip, who would provide the glasses so the people could read the Bibles they were given??

All are important parts of the team. That's a small thing to realize.. maybe an obvious thing.. but the important thing I realized is, even though I'm currently working a career and not leading any sort of CHURCH organized ministry, it's still important. It's important for me to show up to Bible study and participate in the body. It is important for me to read my Bible on my own time so I can share what the Lord puts on my heart and encourage other believers. It is important for me to show up and hold babies in the nursery so mom's can listen to the sermons. It is important for me to show up to Awana  (Even though it is the most difficult thing ever) and show love to the kiddos because it may be all the love they get in a week. At no point do I get to say, "I'm not important, I don't think I'll participate any more."

Alllllll members of the body are important. All people are important. Whether you have a career or no job at all. No matter if you're in a valley or on a mountain top, you're walk with the Lord is important for the whole body of believers. You can encourage and be encouraged.

And so, I've become more content with my job and position amongst my co-workers and friends and family.

And I'm thankful. I'm thankful for all who participate and bless me with their walks with the Lord. Who share their fruit of the Spirit with me. I'm thankful for how the Lord has pursued my heart and used my trip to Nicaragua to teach me to be content. I'm thankful everything on my platter and I'm thankful for you, Dear Reader. You're important. Never forget that for a second! You're important.