Thursday, April 20, 2017

100 Days to Go

It's the 20th!! Shane and I have enjoyed a full month of being engaged and have somehow managed to tackle all the main details and only have "What-shade-of-gray-pants-do-we-make-our-groomsmen-wear" left... we think. Hopefully we haven't missed something huge, but I think most things are squared away. 

For sure we have the main things like the Bride/Groom/ Pastor figured out, which is basically all you need at the end of the day, right? 

Shane and I found ourselves in the court house for the county in which our wedding will take place and I had forgotten to put my ring back on after my morning shower and we brought my baby sister along as our witness. Shane nearly almost married Eva instead as the sweet county notary person passed all of the paperwork over to her to sign as the bride. She just turned 17 so she legally can be married in state of Iowa, BUT that would have been a disaster, so I very quickly stole that paperwork away from her and only let her sign on the witness line. *phew*. I mean, I know Shane has a baby face, but c'mon... 

Anyways, we have 100 days to go, which seems like a lot now that we have everything figured out, but everyone has advised that we enjoy being engaged for a bit. I don't mind that. We originally tried to figure everything out in the first 2 weeks of being engaged, and we ALMOST did it.. but then our we felt a little smothered and wanted more to ask about each other's days than, "Have you thought about what color unity sand?" or "what size of envelopes do we want?" or "What TEXTURE of paper do we want for our invites?" "What type of cupcake paper do we want?"  ...... Let me roll my eyes dramatically for a second. 
Okay, for real though, wedding planning.. it's a beautiful thing. It's not my forte or most favorite thing and I'm thankful I'll only have to do it one time in my whole life.

All Wedding planning aside, I move this weekend!! Out of my home of 2 years. TWO YEARS! This is the longest I've lived anywhere since I graduated high school and moved away from my parent's house. I would honestly love to throw out 80% of my wardrobe and have an excuse to update my professional wear and all that, but some how between wrapping dishes and crock pots and listening to music files for wedding stuff, I lose all motivation to pick up every article of clothing and make a decision. It's not that I don't have time... the motivation thing is my big killer there.

Speaking of Motivation... I think I suddenly got way older somehow as I'm literally FEELING every night that I get less than 8 hours of sleep. I'm sure all moms out there are chuckling and saying, "Oh honey.. JUST YOU WAIT.. you don't even KNOW what tired is yet." That's fair. But, this year, the New Years Resolution that has stuck so far has been to spend more intentional time in The Word and sitting still before the Lord. I go to bed at 10, I wake up at 6 and I spend an hour of quiet waking up with coffee. However, sometimes I dont get to bed until 10:30 and I cannot get myself to get up before 6:30. Maybe I need to program a coffee pot by my bed or something.

Minor things, minor things. Last night my friend helped me move some of my stuff over to my new apartment and things felt a little more real. I forgot how much I hate moving. And as an extrovert, I'm more anxious than ever about living alone. Even just having someone in my living room with me without talking is better than nothing.
Anyways, that all I got. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Proposal: How it happened

Here it is! The whole story:

Shane and I have spent our entire relationship taking turns making the 2 hour drive back and forth to each other's resident cities, with Shane being extra sacrificial and making the 5 hours drive back to my Parents' farm in Storm Lake.

Our weekends are typically scheduled MONTHS out and filled with MULTIPLE things. Which, for the weekend Shane had our engagement in mind, it was technically his turn to come to Des Moines and we didn't even really have that much of plans. Shane just told me there were some hiking trails he wanted to show me with some geocaches along the way.

I had a particularly AWFUL week between work and some other things and had cried basically every day that week. I was exhausted, I was emotionally spent and was easily convinced that a 2 hour drive with Des Moines in my rear view mirror would be worth it either way. By the time Friday rolled around, I didn't much care that we basically had no plans.

My sweet sister, Pearl, and her gracious husband have been my sweet hosts when I come into town to visit Shane. On this particular weekend, they were out of town but still allowed me to sleep in their basement and make myself at home. I arrived to their home around
7pm and Shane had prepared a candle-lit dinner which he had made himself and presented me a box of chocolates as a "sorry you had a rough week" thing. I briefly thought "THIS MIGHT BE THE NIGHT AND I"M TOTALLY NOT DRESSED CUTE FOR IT." But we just had an easy conversation and he easily made me laugh and the rough week was soon forgotten. After dinner we sat by the fireplace and talked a little about our summer plans and future plans and at 10pm, Shane said goodnight and I went to sleep and he locked the door on his way out.

Shane showed back up at
7:30 and we helped ourselves to Pearl and Jeff's espresso machine and sat by their fireplace while we tried to wake up a little better. (I guess Shane had gotten up at 6am but I had no idea). It was a cold and cloudy morning and I would have been content to just spend the morning by the fire with our coffee. BUT, Shane kept insisting we aughta go on a hike and work up an appetite for lunch, and the geocaches would be a fun adventure. He made me breakfast while I stuck in my contacts and put a little makeup on my face. Honestly... it was one of those mornings that the last thing I wanted to do was attempt to look cute or go out in public. BUT, my little sister had recently told me that I was probably at a point in my relationship with Shane where it wouldn't hurt to try and look a little bit nice all the time.. just in case.

I noticed Shane didn't want any breakfast.. which isn't completely unusual, but a little odd since he's been more into eating breakfast lately. I wasn't aware of how cold the weekend was supposed to be and had only brought along a light, peacoat.. which was hardly appropriate for hiking in 36F weather. BUT, off we went and when we arrived at the bottom of this wooded, hill area I was convinced in my mind that we weren't getting engaged since Shane was acting completely relaxed and casual and we were.. hiking.

We got out of the car and I immediately almost froze to death and questioned Shane if we were actually going to be doing this when it's this cold. He said, "uhm.... well, if it really is too cold we can go back to Peff's if you like." (We combine Pearl and Jeff and just say 'Peff) I had no idea he'd gotten up at
6am to set up his little proposal spot and he gambled quite a bit offering to turn back before we got going, but! I'm a determined kinda girl, and we'd driven all the way out to the hiking spot, I decided we may as well.. as long as we got walking real fast to warm up.

We use and app on Shane's phone to find our geocache location and he was the one navigating when we got ourselves into the woods. He kept making weird turns that weren't very direct towards the closest cache and when he decided to skip one that was 20 feet off the path I thought he was being a little ridiculous so I took his phone and decided to lead the way myself. And he found it first.

In my mind I didn't think it was fair the Shane usually always finds the things first and thus I kept his phone and was determined to find the NEXT one first. Shane kept trying to tell me that getting on the path would be way more efficient and we'd get there a lot faster, but, it was way more direct to just plow through the sticks and fallen logs and not use the path.

What a patient man, guys. He let me plow through the bush, down into ravines, up onto hill crests, over 3 fences and up a tree to find this other geocache that was some 300 yards off of his target location. Fortunately for him he had taken back his phone along the way, before his friend Taylor texted him to ask if he'd proposed yet.

After finding the second geocache and getting my hair stuck in the branches of a tree and being completely numb and frozen from over an hour of hiking through this Indian Burial Mound forest, Shane was able to convince me to get back on the path and finish up the day.

We rounded a bend while coming down the path and there was a wooden overlook and I noticed immediately that there were roses set up on it. My initial thought was that someone was supposed to be getting engaged there and we were about to crash it.

I hesitated and told Shane we aughta go a different way so as not to interrupt the happy couple that were supposed to be getting engaged.
He just looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and suggested we take a closer look.

And I realized it was us.

I was in complete shock as Shane led me out to the middle this dock where he had set up roses in the shape of a heart with roses on every post and lining the walk way. He had me step into the giant heart with him and told me that the last 8 months of dating had been the best of his life and he would be very honored if I would spend the rest of my life with him. And he got down on one knee and presented a beautiful wooden box.. that he claims he opened right away, but in my memory I just remember there was writing on the wooden box.
BUT, I was more focused on his face and giving him a hug and the ring part was completely forgotten. I do remember him showing it to me and thinking it was beautiful and saying "yes" and being so completely shocked and feeling like the world had stopped moving and that I was suddenly the smallest creature on earth.

At some point Shane slipped the beautiful ring onto my finger and then we gathered the roses and took our freezing cold, numb and shaking selves down the hill to the car and started calling all of our friends and family.

And that's literally how we spent the rest of the day. Sitting in front of the fire place calling people, telling the story over and over. Between his 6 siblings and their spouses and my 9 siblings and their spouses and all of our grandparents and friends.. it took hours. And before we knew it, it was time to make some strawberry shortcake to take over to his parent's for supper.

I would say it was one of the most magical moments of our relationship, but there have been a lot of magical moments. More than we can count.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Engaged: The Back Story

I've been meaning to type this up on "The Knot" and where ever else it needs to be, but almost every time I sit down with my computer, I start going through all the nitty gritty details that need to be ironed out in the next *deep breath* 122 days.YIKES.

Anyways, here's our story:

I could tell you about the day of the proposal, but I've hardly gotten to talk about us this whole time, so I'm going to start a little further back.

Back in good ol' 2014. We'd met through mutual friends, he had helped my sister move across town one summer and was at a 'thank you' dinner at her house afterwards. I also was there and met him for a whole 1.5 minutes before I was off to a church meeting of some sort. But, he some how stayed showing up with my friends and our paths stayed crossed.

If you followed my blog at all in the spring/ early summer of 2014, I was a wild adventurer, saying yes to everything that sounded crazy. I was going to be moving away from my home city of 5 years and I was determined to squeeze every ounce of adventure out of the place.

Climbing trees, exploring grave yards, accidentally discovering a cult temple and attending a prophet summit, Shane was always there. He was our man that made sure we didn't get ourselves in too much trouble, but he was also climbing the same trees and getting the same awkward stares from the locals on our cult tour. (We did get a tour).

We were the bestest of all friends. Our group was perfect and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

I was the first of our perfect group to move away. Taking a job back home, driving for my father and chasing down cattle lots and foaming pig pits and saving Iowa one manure sample at a time.

My closest friends stayed close, calling and texting me from afar... they were my life lines. My sweet encouragement, my daily manna. Shane being one of them. There were no romantic feelings, just the deepest and profound appreciation for a simple, "How was your day?" Friends.. those words are life.

Anyways.. weeks became months, and as the months came and went, and my life began down its new path. Here and there, I'd venture back to my friends in Iowa City and 
Shane and I really came to  enjoy time with each other. Our friends noticed there seem to be a little more to us than we cared to admit. We both didn't want to cross that line. Our friendship was perfect and we weren't about to ruin that on FEELINGS and things .After a couple more months, and a lot of pressure from some of our friends, I admitted in a text my feelings were a little more than just the friendzone box and Shane called me up to say he was right there with me. BUT, it didn't feel right at all.

The months I'd been away from Bible study and friends my age had taken a toll on my walk with the Lord.. my heart was just sad.. in the deepest places. I missed my friends, but I missed the Lord the most. Shane and I decided then wasn't the time and maybe we'd talk about it again in a couple months.

And that was that. After that phone call, I felt like I had just laid to rest the most wonderful friendship I'd ever had. He went off to Bible school and all communication and adventure stopped cold.
And when he came back we had one conversation that solidified my fears and all hope was put out. We weren't going to go down that road. We agreed to pull back and not cross that friend-only line if we could help it. And something in me died a little.

But the Lord had better things in store anyways. I moved to Des Moines and started a whole new life and made new friends and the Lord pursued me passionately. Which is what I needed more than anything. No one tells you that when you are thriving in ministry in college and have 100+ friends that you can hang out with all hours of any day, always have someone to sit with at church, everyone knows your name, you know every street name and short cut in town.. and then you graduate and move away.. no one tells you that it's like wiping out on concrete while rolling blading full speed. All momentum stops instantly. And that thriving, heart full-of-Jesus feeling doesn't necessarily come with you when you move away from EVERY.SINGLE.FRIEND who knew you and loved you when your heart bloomed its fullest.

Be warned, sweet college students, life is different on the other side. Not bad, just different.

ANYWAYS... I digress.

Life in Des Moines didn't fully settle down. With out a job, I was a free bird and traveled every moment I got. But in all that crazy tornado, God reached into the deepest places of my heart and made me whole again. There were no distractions and God had all of me where He wanted me. During which time I asked God, "why" a million times. He only ever answered with , "Wait."

And more months went by and somewhere in there, visiting my remaining friend back in Iowa City, our paths crossed here and we settled back into our friend group, gently. Us three original friends, who'd visited the cult during their prophet summit and hopped through barbed-wire fences and been spot lighted by Amish in a thunderstorm. And all was right in the world again.

And then some time around January of 2016, Shane and I's friendship did what it had done before.. become the best of all friendships and same passions for adventures and the Lord settled back into easy conversations and shared laughter. We also share the same love and enjoyment of a certain computer game called "Age of Empires" and would google hangout while battling civilizations and when our games would end, we'd stay chatting about everything until we'd finally realize we aught to sleep. It was a perfect friendship. He was wise and kind and easy to laugh with and talk about life.

Although, I was worried that we might end things all over again if we weren't careful. But somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, "well, there's no one in the world like Shane, and if he's not my guy, I might just never have a guy." Shane kind of set a standard for 'Godly, adventures, humorous, competent man" that had yet to be matched by any other I'd ever met.

My best friend was going to be married in June and the few months leading up to that we filled with stress at work, obligations and travel plans and no signs of stopping anywhere. Shane kept hinting here and there that we needed to "talk"... seeing as how our last "talk" ended our friendship.. I told him he'd have to wait until after my friend's wedding as I could only handle one thing at a time.

He ran off to Africa to plant churches a few weeks before my friends wedding (Go figure) and I realized in the time I couldn't communicate with him at all that I had, indeed, let my heart cross our strict 'friends-only' policy.

His brother was getting married the week before my best friend and we all headed back to good ol' Kalona to see it. And there was Shane, looking like he'd just come out of the bush in Africa (Because he did).. a member of the bridal party. My heart skipped a little seeing him in the distance and I kind of hoped my friends and I could all sneak out of the wedding before we had to socialize too much.

But, Shane caught up to us before we made it out and said, "Fern, don't leave yet, I brought you something." And he pulled me aside and pulled from his bag chocolate from Amsterdam. Because he remembered in one of our previous conversations that I had a friend in college go to Amsterdam promising to bring back chocolate and not doing so. And it wasn't even airport chocolate... he had gotten on a train, left the airport, and found a chocolate shop in Amsterdam.

Be.still. my. heart.

He didn't even explain it really.. he just.. gave it to me.

And I saw him again a week later, at my best friend's wedding. We had one final adventure with our three amigos before we hugged Anne goodbye as she took off for a job in Florida.

And there Shane and I stood, in my parking lot, me a fresh mess from saying good bye to Anne and thinking our "Talk" would be another, "Yo.. we can't even be friends ever."

We went up to my apartment, sat on my couch, and Shane took a deep breath and asked to take me on a date. I think he included in his speech that after much prayer and consideration, he'd come to the conclusion that there wasn't any other girl in the world for him. And thus started the happiest months I've lived thus far.

---Engagement story to come-----

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.