Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Roots in Minnesota

It has been over 2 years since I last wrote. Several times I tried to return to writing. I would write a lengthy entry only to delete it all. Something kept holding me back.

When we first left Iowa, I was scared. We were packing up our bags and starting something new. A new place, new people. New coworkers, new church, new school, new neighborhood, new friends. So much change and excitement! I tried to so hard to stay positive about our big change.

I used to think I was brave, but moving stirred a fearful energy in me I had no idea existed in me. I was trying so hard to be brave for my kids and husband. What I didn't realize was I needed to be brave for me too. I couldn't admit the power my fear had on me. Saying I was afraid of a new place was something I could not admit aloud. It wasn't just that I felt the need to shoulder that burden myself, I really couldn't handle knowing how afraid I was.

In some sense I was uprooted.

The crazy thing is this new home we have created in Minnesota, we love it. Minnesota has been a second home to us. It is everything we wanted for our family. The beauty here of nature is so amazing, the lakes and trees and wildlife just beg you to come outside and play. Our kids have fabulous teachers at a top rated school. Our neighborhood is so great we ended up buying our first home a block away.

We are in the right place. But I'm not sure that my heart has been these last two years.

When I first stopped writing my excuse was the lack of time. We were in a new place and I kept saying when we have time again I will write. I was just too busy. But the truth was I kept adding in "more busy" to our life. I was literally keeping myself busy to avoid writing.

Months passed, and the fear started to take over. I was in a new place with new people and if I am honest I was desperate to make new roots. I had this idea that others would judge me for my writing. I was afraid to be my true self. I needed acceptance, being myself was risky. I wanted so badly to be right and I wasn't sure if I could write all the right things anymore.

At this point I told myself maybe I was putting too much of myself into my writing. I told myself I was opening too much of my heart to others. I told myself I needed privacy to protect me. I became afraid of sharing my writing. Something in me didn't even feel safe sharing with close friends and family.

I kept wanting to write. I prayed about it. I kept feeling a pull to just write again. And yet I was paralyzed. Stuck.

To still that voice I told myself I really wasn't equipped to be a writer. I don't really have the skills I told myself. Who was I to write about God? About family? About journeying through any bit of life? I was realizing I didn't have all the answers so why bother to write at all?

I tried to journal but at some point I just stopped trying. I tried to sort out my fears through prayer. The struggle was real.

Then my fear turned into something worse.

Doubt. Self Loathing. Shame. I became afraid of myself. I had convinced myself my writing didn't matter. It got to the point where I started to wonder if I mattered. I felt small, insignificant and unworthy.

My season of new beginnings became a season of winter.

I have been hiding and shutting out the source of who I am. My essential self, the core of who I am, suffered. I am a writer. That is who God wants me to be right now.

I stopped writing out of insecurity but ironically not writing was what made me feel less secure. My growth stopped and fear rooted in it's place. Like a garden where weeds have taken over and driven out the light, I struggled. I was tangled up in the roots of fear.

But oh to write again! It feels good to write, to create. I don't know how to explain it. When I write, there is this rhythm to it, and my thoughts and emotions take on a different essence. I never realized how much I was writing for myself. Typing up something like this, it proves I am alive. I still am here.

I think I had to go through this season of being uprooted and this season of winter to really know who I am. I never considered myself a creative person. But now I know that it is my own creation that stirs up a connection in my faith. That represents a core of who I am.

In my struggle I found something new. I found some new roots.

I don't know yet what these new roots will do but I am confident they are good. I can fully trust that God is leading me into a new season. I believe this season will be one of renewal and transformation. I'm ready now to embrace my new roots. I feel grounded and whole. I feel an awakening in my soul. My heart is full of anticipation of what is yet to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Family in Iowa is Moving to Minnesota

Many of you that read my blog know that I did a challenge to write every day in Lent. Early in April I broke my promise and chose to pray daily and keep a private journal.

Early in April Brent was approaching graduation for his Masters degree. His final class was in April and in May he graduated. During this process he also started looking for an ideal job that would follow the career path that he desired for himself. Although I knew it was coming I was not ready for the bitterness that would settle in my heart as we anxiously awaited the next chapter of our lives. For the last three years I have known that we would most likely move out of state. I just didn't know where and when. These last months, they were the hardest. Every time I sat down to write, to journal, only anxiety poured out. Instead of blogging about that I chose to be silent. I chose to pray.

The hardest things ever to face are the unknown. Fear can settle in fast when you can't control your future. Even if the future holds promise, anxiety can really take a toll on the most joyful of hearts. I am a planner. An over planner who over commits and wants to get busy at work right away. Waiting to plan, that is hard for me.

After months of waiting anxiously (and it felt like years!) to find out what happens next I am excited to announce that Brent accepted a job offer in Minneapolis. Brent will be working for Honeywell in Golden Valley starting July 7th. The kids and I will move late this summer, once we are done with summer activities here.

I'm not really excited about packing. I don't like moving. I'm also definitely NOT excited about Minnesota winters. I would prefer somewhere warmer to be perfectly honest. But hey maybe the kids will finally get to play hockey and I hear we have some skiing options in the winter. And it is still in the Midwest, close to most of our family in a really cool city. *silver lining*

However, it is going to be really difficult leaving behind all of the wonderful people here in Iowa. I know we will visit and we will see family and friends from time to time. I know also that many will make the drive to visit us. Note: you guys better come visit!!! But not being able to drop in for that book club, or youth outing, or playdate, or meeting for drinks at the wine bar or being close to Kinnick for tailgates and just a short drive from family--that won't be easy.

I'm not good at goodbyes, I get overly emotional and say stupid stuff. So forgive me if I sound like I think it is the end of the world. We do know how huge of a blessing this is for our family. We are excited to start a new adventure but saying goodbye to these things is bitter sweet.

If there is one thing I want to say, it is that we could not have been more blessed, more encouraged, and more supported by our friends and family. It is going to be hard to leave home. I don't know where our journey will take us. I don't know what kind of adventures we will have next. What I do know is that Our Family will always call Iowa home. Always. 

Thank you friends. Please keep in touch. :-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


This time last year Brent and I were in China. Brent had to go for class as part of his masters program. Me, I just really wanted an excuse to go to China. I was not going to take no for a China. I had wanted to travel there for years. I still want to go back.

I love the USA and I love living in Iowa. However, there is just something about traveling the world and seeing new places that I love. Seeing other cultures and experiencing different things. I love learning about other countries. The variety and differences among people, they are what I love in life.

We met so many neat people in both Beijing and Shanghai. We got to negotiate and barter our price when shopping, we tried foods that we had never tried and we visited a number of places that both of us had never been as well as ones Brent had been to before. We came home with so many fun stories to share with friends.

My favorite thing we did in Shanghai was our Huangpu river boat cruise at night where we saw all of the lights along the Bund and the Oriental pearl tower. We almost missed it even because of me, I am so glad we made it to the boat on time. I also really loved visiting places outside of Shanghai. Brent I think enjoyed visiting World of Joyland the most but my favorite was a town called Zhujiajiao. It was a little town built around water canals. Full of historical gardens but still a modest city it had lots of charm.

In Beijing who cannot love visiting Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall. My favorite activity was a Hutong bike tour that allowed us to visit one of the few remaining neighborhoods in Beijing. We visited a local family, a Eastern medicine pharmacy and hospital and dined at a local dumpling restaurant before visiting the Summer palace. The Summer palace had all of the magnolia flowers in full bloom and it was just a sight to see.

I don't know when we will go back to China. I just know I will go again. There are so many places there I still want to see. I want to go to more historical cities like Xian and I want to view more of the rice terraces and other natural wonders in China that are off the beaten path. I studied so much of the arts and history of China in college. Today I just want to see it all for myself. I love that my family all loves China as much as I do. My own kids share our love of traveling and want to visit China. Brent used to live there but even he still has many places he has not seen and would like to go to again.

It might be dreaming but someday I would like to just travel the world. China would be at the top of the list.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Spring is here and the nice weather means that new life is stirring outside. Our yard has little tulips and daffodils starting to peek up through the dirt. We are all anxious awaiting for them to pop up and bring color and new life into this world. Every morning I can hear all the birds and squirrels outside our windows.Our yard has never looked great (yard work is not on our list of priorities) but hey it is starting to be green again.

Spring doesn't just bring with it new life, it brings with it new beginnings.

This winter has just been hard. The harsh weather has meant that we have been maybe a little too close to each other. There are only so many activities to do with young kids. We are all eager to get outside and enjoy the sun. There are wide open spaces, with plenty of distance between each other to spare. Now that spring is here I am so thankful for the chance to escape and bring a little fun back in our days. Most of all I am ready for the return of sanity. Also an end to the season of shoveling. And shoveling. And shoveling. And snow days and school delays. I am over those too.

Both of our boys are enjoying playing soccer, basketball, jumping on the trampoline with the neighbor kids, and riding their bikes. Eleanor is learning how to ride a bike and loves going on walks with Oliver every morning to the park. We have already gone through a brand new box of chalk and are ready to break out the bubble and kites this week.

We had our first picnic lunch this week and last week we had s'mores with friends. For the first weekend in forever we had an entire Saturday free to spend as a family at home just doing nothing. We just hung out and had nowhere to go. We managed to get some tasks done, but mostly we just spent time together.

This morning I wasn't fully awake and I was not really excited about the day. I was just exhausted. I threw an outfit together, brushed my teeth, decided my hair looked okay, and that I could wait on the shower. After breakfast and taking Thomas to school I took Eleanor on a wagon ride, my big coffee mug in one hand and the wagon handle in the other. Oliver rode ahead of us on his bike. It just felt good. The kids were so excited to be going to the park. I was excited because we weren't inside. I was happy because I had more than a second to gather my thoughts while they were occupied playing outside. I had coffee even. It was cold already, but I didn't care because I had coffee and that was enough.

My house, it was a disaster. A weeks worth of clean laundry needed put away. My kitchen and bathroom I won't even describe. My living room had the contents of a spilled cereal baggie that I still needed to sweep up from this morning's breakfast. My papers were scattered all across the couch from after class and my purse lay dumped out on the floor because my two year decided to search it for money or candy, I'm not sure which.

None of this bothered me. Normally this would have made me loose my sanity. Truthfully it would have. Today though, I really didn't care. I knew I would get to it all eventually. Today, we were going to just get outside.

Life gets fast sometimes or painful. Life can also get boring or lonely. Sometimes we get disconnected and sometimes we just need space. It is little things like these that make me happy. They are little moments to be treasured. They are blessings.

I have so much gratitude for days like today and this last week. Some days just are crappy. I mean really, we have all had them. But the good ones are like medicine for our souls, they make them not matter. There are bad days. But there are always good days too. There is always something better waiting for us. A treasure to be found.

Matthew 6:21 says that "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I am so thankful that God would give me little treasures like these. They are not treasures that we think about here on earth, but treasures of our heart and soul. They are gifts. I know I take them for granted a lot, but I am thankful for them today. Treasures like these are important.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Disciples and Labels

One of my favorite things to study is the relationships that Jesus had in the bible. In particular I enjoy reading about the first 12 disciples. After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil he departed to Galilee and began his ministry of preaching to others. This is where he met the disciples and asked them to follow him.

The first disciples Jesus choose are important because none of them were perfect. Consistently throughout the Gospels we read how Jesus taught the disciples who God really was and what His word really means. Jesus choose a group of men with rough edges at best, sketchy backgrounds if we are talking truthfully, and at the worst would abandon Jesus in his greatest hour of need.

There was Matthew the greedy and corrupt tax collector and Thomas the doubter who didn't believe that Jesus was risen. There was Judas who betrayed Jesus and plotted to turn Jesus over to the officials. There was also Peter who denied Jesus in the hours leading up to his death and all throughout the Gospel had a rocky faith. He was either all in or all out. The rest of the disciples were not any more qualified. Jesus chose Simon who was a rebel fighting against corrupt government. He also chose Bartholomew who questioned whether Jesus was the real deal because he came from Nazareth, and what good would come from a poor town like that. The rest we know very little about, only that some were a tough group of fishermen.

So what do a bunch of fishermen, a rebel, tax collector, a doubter, a betrayer, and a denier and a brown-noser have in common?

They were not perfect and they all needed Jesus. These men all had labels. Some of them had very imperfect backgrounds that were questionable at best. But Jesus saw in them something good. He saw in them value. They were the diamonds in the rough (literally) that would become the rock of the early church. It is through Jesus' relationships with the disciples and early followers that we understand what Jesus was really teaching. Jesus was teaching us the power of love.

If Jesus saw value in a group of men as imperfect at the disciples, you can bet he sees good in us too. Jesus was preaching that through Him, we are made whole.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 

God loved us so much that he sent his son into this world to save us. This is about God's love for us. God loves us more than enough.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

All of our brokenness, all of our labels, all of the sins of the past (and our future)are all wiped clean with God. Sometimes society sticks us with a label or tells us we need to be something else. Sometimes we do it to ourselves. We tell ourselves that we will never be good enough, strong enough, believe enough, etc. But it doesn't matter what your weakness is or how many flaws you have. God loves you no matter what. Labels don't stick with Jesus. Jesus loved the disciples and he loves us too.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9

What a gift grace is! Unconditional love leads to grace. No hoops to jump through, no strings attached, never ending and infinite love. Nothing you can do can make God love you any more, and nothing you can do will make God love you any less. We don't need to be perfect because His love is always enough.

We all carry a label with us. We all think something makes us not good enough. But we are good enough and we are deserving of God's love. We are imperfectly perfect to God. God brought Jesus into this world so that we might know love and love each other. Real love. So that we might be brought out of the darkness too light and that we could become a light to each other.

We don't have to do anything but such a gift like that? It inspires us to love each other. It is so powerful that how can you NOT share it. When something is so good, every part of you wants to share that with others.

This pictures in this post are from our youth group last night. I had the kids look up scriptures about Matthew, Thomas, Peter, and Judas. I had them decide what label each of these disciples had. Before they did this I gave them 60 seconds to write down as many labels as they could think of that defined themselves. While they were working I wrote all of these down. We only had 8 teens and they came up with nearly 50 labels. That is a LOT of labels for any group of young adults to have.

My point was to show them that Jesus doesn't care about these labels. God's love is greater than any label they have. We all need to ditch our labels!

We are the next generation of disciples. I think we really need to lean on the stories of the early disciples and look at their relationships with Jesus. These disciples were not perfect, they got things wrong. But these mistakes and errors did not define their journey. The journey was learning to love God, love ourselves and love others.

It is also okay for us to get things wrong too. It is going to happen. We are no more perfect than the disciples in the early church. We are still writing our own stories and walking our own journeys with Christ. We all will betray or deny Christ at some point in our lives. The important thing is that we focus on love. God teaches us that love wipes out labels. Love should be the center of our relationships. Love is the solid foundation that we need.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What if our relationship with God is like gravity?

Ever just feel like your life is completely out of control? Rushing back and forth between appointments, errands, and meetings. Maybe it is clutter, maybe it is your relationships, maybe it is your finances or your job, and  maybe you just don't feel like you have the time.

Driving with my kids in tow today I had a thought. We were having our own little "out of control" moment. We were on our way to story time but we were of course on the time and conditions set by my 2 and 5 year old. I was not in control. Not of time. Not of these kids. Not of the traffic lights and stop signs. Honestly I was thinking hey I am just lucky the universe let me have coffee and a running vehicle this morning!

I wasn't exactly upset that I didn't have it all together. Randomness seems to be how life with kids is, nothing is totally in my control. This is something I have to accept every day. Parenting is hard because sometimes we enter a survival parenting zone. The outcome of our efforts is not always in sight and we question ourselves. It seems like we are locked in a battle for our kids.

Today I just needed something to center me. I needed something to pull me together. And I thought, wow! I need gravity!

Gravity is a very powerful part of our life that we don't really understand, but we know it exists. It binds the fabric of our universe together. It is invisible. Still, it pulls on everything and without it nothing could exist.

"We know from Isaac Newton and his law of gravitation that any two objects in the Universe exert a force of attraction on each other. This relationship is based on the mass of the two objects and the distance between them. The greater the mass of the two objects and the shorter the distance between them, the stronger the pull of the gravitational forces they exert on each other." Read more:

You can kind of picture it as a cloth and a heavy ball. When we place the ball on a suspended piece of cloth the shape of the cloth bends and bows down. It doesn't break, it doesn't tear or rip. Instead the force between the ball and the cloth changes the shape of the cloth.

Gravity is kind of like faith. You can't see it, even fully explain it but it exists and it pulls at us.

God is always calling out to us and our soul pulls him to us too. Our souls want to be centered. The more energy and love we have for God and the closer we get to God, the stronger the pull becomes. We might run away from God, but the pull still exists.

In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? Job 12:10

I needed something to center me today. I needed God to pull me back into orbit.  I needed prayer. I  really wanted that deep connection and relationship with Him today. I needed to know that even though I'm not in control, that I know who runs this universe.

"If God maintains sun and planets in bright and ordered beauty, he can keep us." -F.B. Meyer

God provides the balance that I need. I don't have to be in control because God is in control. God is a real force in this world and it is Him that I can trust in. When we have faith in God, he pulls us in tight. Our relationship with God is like gravity. Things happen in life completely outside of our control but it is because of His love for us that we can trust that God will pull everything together how they need to be. He will pull his arms around us and just love us. Through anything.

We might be afraid, angry, sad or a whole list of emotions but when we give these to God we are opening the door for a relationship with God. When we fully open up our hearts to God we lean in and our relationship grows. It is that trusting to work on that relationship that is the hardest part. We have to work at letting go of control. We let part of ourselves go and let God into our hearts instead. It transforms us.

The real transformation happens because he is always reaching out to us. He is always pulling at the fabric of this universe, working for good. It isn't about the outcome, it is all about His love for us through everything. It is about the gravity in our relationship. It is about His never failing desire to connect with us.

 I don't have to be perfect and have it all together. I don't need to be a perfect mother. I don't need to have all the answers. I need to be centered. I need to focus on God. Even in my imperfection, God gives me gravity. God can work through all of us through prayer. Our relationship with Him challenges us and transforms us to be the imperfect perfect person that we are. God's love is gravity.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Miss Unorganized

I am not an organized person. Actually, I am quite the opposite really. If I ever won an award in the Miss USA competition it would be "Miss Unorganized." Serious, that is the label I would stick myself with.

Lately my inability to "keep it together" has reached a whole new tipping point. We showed up at school today to drop off my preschooler. We were running late (which isn't really a new thing) and I walked him up to the door to discover that guess what? No preschool today. At which point he goes oh yeah I forgot. Of course I am thinking, oh great thanks. The worst part? I didn't even know!

There was a point in time where I was organized enough to keep my dates and appointments and schedule straight and track it in a planner. I even had a calendar up on my wall and a carefully updated Google calendar that linked my email account and my phone calendar. I had it together. I think I was anyways, it has been so long I have forgotten what that looks like. This was the second time this year I have done this with my son. I was expecting some paper trail to come home and remind me that my son had the day off but I either miss it or forget to write it down.

I find it pretty funny that after my little mix up today I would want to torture myself with an organization class at our church tonight about getting rid of clutter. Guys, I have to confess. I have clutter. Lots of clutter I hide before guests come over. Our class leader Becky Esker* said, "Clutter is the failure to make a decision." Boy is that true. I will procrastinate and excuse myself out of dealing with anything.

I need some priorities. I need to mentally free myself of all the clutter in my life. No more excuses, no more obstacles to prevent me from acting. I need to live my life in a way that puts my values first. That takes discipline. That takes knowing what my end goal is and working toward it through real effort.

One of the exercises she gave us was to Start Small using a list by John Maxwell. The first three things is to list 5 areas of life that lack discipline, to prioritize them, and handle them one at a time. To hold myself accountable I am listing them here for all of you to see.

1) Grocery/Meal Planning
2) Exercise
3) Prayer
4) Laundry/Chores
5) Organization (Did you think I was going to leave it off the list?)

So I definitely don't enjoy meal planning. And well exercise, that is already a work in progress and so is prayer. Housework you can just forget about, the kids seem to mess up those plans anyways. So the one I need to work on next is organization. If I was really specific I would say my calendar, my closet, my kitchen drawers, getting rid of kids' items we longer need, and those pesky boxes of junk in my basement.

So where to start? I'm going to have to go with my calendar! Seems pretty fitting considering the events of the day. Starting tomorrow I am going to take 15 minutes every day to update it. It's a good start I think to my journey to a more organized life!

*Becky Esker is a professional organizer. You can hire her to help you with your clutter.  Visit her website for more information.