Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Doing Hard Things - Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

 We have been hard at work just lately getting our basement a little more finished.

We (Ken mostly) finished hanging the little odds and ends of drywall that still needed to go up. Then came my job.....

Mudding and taping all the drywall. Ken had done that in the basement of our last house and said "Never Again" but since we like to save money and do things ourselves when we can I said that I would give it a go this time.

   Yes I did all the mudding with my eyes closed - wouldn't you do it that way too? Just kidding - of the pictures taken, this was the least blurry and so naturally my eyes were closed in it too. :-)

   Mudding and taping is where the stepping out of my comfort zone came in. Sure, I said I would do it but I had never done it before, I have heard that it is hard to do at least if you want it to look good and I actually felt rather overwhelmed by it. The project got put off for quite a while but then deadlines for getting it done approached and I just jumped in and got started. And I discovered, as it seems like I always do when I work on a project that seems overwhelming, that it wasn't all that hard. It isn't like it was super easy or quick - it did require work, figuring things out and diligence to get the job done - but overall it was doable.

Here are some reasons why I think it is good to step out of your comfort zone every once and a while and do something that seems hard to you:

  • You can learn something new.
  • You develop confidence. Each time you try something new and it works out you become more and more confident that will also happen in future times.
  • You are a good example to your children. If they are going to grow and mature then they constantly have to be learning new things and doing things that seem hard for them. 
  • You may be able to inspire others.
  • Even if it seems like you fail, you can grow from it and realize that God might use that "failing" in a way that you never dreamed.
Thinking on this subject made me think of this verse....

Philippians 1:12-14
"12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear."

I think that Paul had to do hard things on a regular basis. At the time of this writing the hard things that he was doing had landed him in jail. But I just think it is super cool that he didn't let that get him down and his Brothers and Sisters in Christ were inspired to also do hard things because they realized that they didn't have to be afraid. Our God is bigger and mightier than any chains - whatever sort of chains they might be. 

We can practice doing hard things on simple things like home improvement projects and then use those skills we have learned to serve God fearlessly and with passion!

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Wise Old Owl

  On Saturday morning I happened to glance out the window just as an owl flew up to sit in a tree near our house. I know owls live around here but we don't often see them so that was fun to get to see it. I showed Ken and then pretty soon all the kids were looking out the window at it as well.  I believe it is a Barred Owl. I think it looks so majestic just sitting up in the tree.

   Ken had given me a camera for Christmas and this was a fun opportunity to try it out a little more. I really appreciated the large zoom that it has for this photo shoot. The picture above I took through my office window but the one below is from our front porch.
 Owls are often considered wise I believe because they just look like they should be. :-) But anyway I thought I would share a verse on wisdom to go along with this post.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!" Psalm 11:10

  Thinking about this verse I would say that an owl probably is wise - They, like all of the natural world, do fear the Lord. God has created them to praise him just by doing their normal day to day activity. But then they don't really have a choice. We do however and the best choice is to Fear and Praise our Lord and Savior. It might not sound like fun to "Fear the Lord" but that is something we are told to do. When it talks about fear of the Lord it is that understanding that God is Almighty, he is powerful and he is just. We need to obey Him. There will be punishment for those who don't. But it doesn't mean we live in a scary world were we always need to be afraid - not at all! God also is full of love and mercy and he gave us Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins when we believe in Him and obey Him. Fear of God will lead us to a place of peace, contentment and true joy! I hope you have found that! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Matterhorn Music Video

This is our most recent music project. Aaron found this song and wanted to do it and I have truly enjoyed getting to play it with him. Jonathan was the mastermind behind the recording (both sound and video) and it was so fun to have all sorts of other family and our friend, Will to help out with the producing of it.

Monday, January 13, 2020

This Last Month - A busy one it has been!

  The last 31 days have been very full. It has been super fun and I have loved it. Here is part of what has been going on around here.

-We hosted a Cast Party for "Annie" at our house. Over 40 people came. It was super fun to reconnect with the friends that we have made in Theater. We did a potluck supper - Great Depression style (to go along with "Annie").

-Ken and I celebrated our 21st Anniversary. No big trip this year but we did enjoy an evening out.

-I had a fun lunch with my friend Lyndi whom I hadn't been able to spend as much visiting time with lately as I like. :-)

-We Sang at the Nursing Home.

-Jonathan recorded Aaron and I doing the song "Matterhorn.

-Mara and Thomas arrived on the 19th and stayed until yesterday, the 11th. We loved having them here! Thomas had a long break from the University and that included from his tutoring job as well.

-We went sledding out at my parents with a lot of family (after eating a yummy lunch there).

-We went ice skating.

-We enjoyed supper at Keren and Benjamin's and participated in a White Elephant gift exchange. It was rather fun.

-We celebrated Christmas. The morning was just our family but for lunch we were joined by some family and friends. I think we had a total of 18.
Megan made Mara, herself and I some dresses of her own design. They are rather clever.

Thomas made me a notebook and Mara made me these pretty mittens.
I was blessed with many sweet gifts and a very notable one was a lovely new camera from Ken. I have been enjoying that.

Thomas and Mara

Ephraim and Matthias enjoyed getting on Thomas.

Hosting a big dinner is never to hard with the sort of family and friends that I have. I get so much help!

Christmas day was a lovely time for a walk.

Ken and I enjoying a laugh during a game.

Mathias loves Jonathan too.

- We dealt with some sickness. I was super thankful not to get it myself but my boys had some times of not feeling good.
 I tried out babysitting again. My family and Keren and Benjamin (Keren is my sister and Benjamin and Thomas (who is my son-in-law) are brothers) wanted to go see the Star Wars movie. I have decided to never watch Star Wars so I wasn't interested so I offered to watch Ephraim and Mathias. I did it at their house (they are neighbors). We started off well (You never know with 1 and 3 year olds) But within 10 minutes we had blood from one end of the house to another. Ephraim wanted to show me the glow-in-the dark stars in his room and so of course we had to turn the lights off and then he wanted to jump on his bed (and I was being a lenient aunt) and then he fell and hit a corner of a wall and cut open the back of his head. He had blood streaming out and ran to the other end of the house looking for his mom. We got it taken care of and had a great time with stories, games and music later but I did wonder if I was very good at babysitting anymore.

-We moved all of my Mother-in-law, Sharyl's stuff out of her 2 storage units and into her house and garage. That was a busy Saturday. It is nice to have it done. We were thankful to have my parents and our kids (including our very helpful son-in-law) help. Though not Aaron's help - that was the day that he was sick.
-Overnight we got a lot of snow which continued to fall on Sunday. Church was cancelled but since 3 households from our church (My sister and family, my mother-in-law and us) all live within 1/2 mile of each other we decided to have church together at Keren and Benjamin's house. We figured we would walk but Aaron was still feeling a little gimpy from being sick so Ken thought he could test out his new truck in the snow. It worked quite well.

At Keren and Benjamin's. Ephraim entertained after we had spent some time studying the Bible and listening to some thoughts that Benjamin shared, had communion and sang a song.
 -Then we had those people over to our house for lunch and games. We are so thankful to have family living close that we can hang out with even if there is a snow storm.

 -We had a special supper on the last day of Chanukah.

Potato Latkes are always a favorite. We also enjoyed baked chicken, fresh bread with sesame seeds and cooked apples.
-The morning of New Year's Eve found Mara and I sewing up 3 easy 1920's dresses for the party we were going to that evening.

 -On New Year's Eve in the afternoon Mara, Thomas, Jonathan, Sharyl and I went to an "Escape Room" that was at the State Park. We had to get a park pass for the vehicle but otherwise it was free. We had fun with that.

- We traveled up to my sister Martha's for New Year's Eve and New Years Day. She and her family live around 2 hours drive North East of us. They suggested that we wear 20's apparel for the evening.
Ken and I dressed up.

Others that dressed up (not counting Aaron who is on the end).

I had fun hanging out on New Years day with my newest niece - Buelah.

Here she is with my cute little nephews too.
 -We had the Rotary exchange student who is due to come live with us for a few months starting in March over for a day.

-We made candles.
 -On the 5th a couple of girls from church came over for the afternoon. They and Megan had fun with a art project (Making globes and planets).

-Also on the 5th we held a party with Soup, Snacks and Games. We had around 50 people here. It was fun.
-On the 6th Jonathan had us shoot a video for "Matterhorn" the song we had recorded earlier. We had over all the teenage cousins and Harrison who is 21. Jonathan also had his friend Will come help with the filming. I spent that day with 13 teenagers and college age people. It was fun and I found out that they can eat a lot. :-) They had fun turning part of our house into a "ski chalet".

 -Both of my sisters that live out of town were in town basically all of last week. So all of us siblings, except my oldest brother who is currently in Oregon, and our families hung out together a lot. We spent a lot of time over at my parents house.
We enjoy having music as part of our gatherings.
-We went to an art show premier (I don't know if that is the right term or not!) that showed the art of a friend from Theater. It is super neat fabric art.

-We enjoyed a supper at Nana's new house.

-Mara and Thomas left after being here a little over 3 weeks. We were so glad they got to come.

It was a good month. I am excited for this new year - I hope you are too!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas! - Our 2019 Letter

Another year has gone by, and we are again writing to wish you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year.  2019 was the year in which we had four teenagers at once for a few months, and with that came busyness, change and a lot of joy.
Having said that, our year started on a somber note as Ken’s dad Terry passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve.  The first part of January brought the memorial service and a houseful of family here for a few days. We loved the time with family but miss Dad and Grandad very much.
After Terry’s passing, Ken’s mom decided to sell her house and build a house on the lot across the road from us. Construction is almost done, and she is living in it now, after staying most of the summer and fall at our place. It is a blessing to have her nearby.
Mara (20) had the biggest change this year. She became engaged to Thomas on New Year’s Day, and they tied the knot on May 18th. Our house was abuzz with preparations as the day approached, from making of dresses, bow ties and vests, to bringing the woods into the church building for decoration.
The newlyweds are living in Topeka, Kansas while Thomas finishes his final year at Washburn University.  Mara has spent her time in such enjoyable activities as foraging for wild foods (amazing what you can find in the city) and volunteering in a greenhouse near their apartment. Over the summer, Thomas had an internship with a railroad company and is now tutoring during the school year.
Jonathan (18) is in his senior year and has been working at starting a videography business. He is focusing primarily on weddings for now, with hopes to expand further later on. Jonathan leads our home school co-op’s high schoolers film-making project last year. They had such a blast that they are working on a new film this year, with Jonathan heading things up once again.
At the suggestion of Ken as well as his boss, Jonathan applied for and received a scholarship to Camp RYLA this year. Although he wasn’t sure what to expect, he really enjoyed RYLA and found it very useful in building leadership skills.
                Aaron (16) continues to be our active, outdoor child. As this letter was typed, he was busy outside the window building and trying out a snowboarding terrain course. This summer, he built a huge mountain bike jump and, after an upgrade, proudly called us out to witness his first run, which unfortunately ended in a mighty crash and a broken collar bone!
Aaron followed in the footsteps of his older siblings this summer by going to work at Big River Scoop, our local ice cream shop.  This enabled him to save up money to buy two mountain bikes and a guitar.  (Mountain biking is definitely his favorite hobby, and has learned to play guitar quite well.)  He and Jonathan went to teen weeks at Flaming Pine Youth Camp and enjoyed it a lot.
Megan (13) reads a lot, finds most of her schoolwork easy and is incredibly creative. She continues to draw almost every day.  She loves to sew and has made many of her clothes. This year she began remaking clothes and came up with some pretty cool creations. She also made a fancy old fashioned dress for herself, using a pattern she designed just by studying a doll dress. 
Just recently, Megan made a doll, a bunch of doll clothes and a wooden dollhouse for a cousin’s third birthday. Megan enjoys children and has taught a Sunday school class for younger kids at church. It is fun to watch her prepare and come up with creative ways to teach them a Bible story.
Ken stays very busy with Pine Country Insurance but has also been working on development of an online app for insurance agencies, in collaboration with his younger brother Daniel. 
Abbi’s wedding floral business is still going well. Homeschooling has become a breeze, as the kids do much on their own – except the rare times they ask for her help with an Algebra problem that she doesn’t remember how to do.
One of the highlights of Abbi’s year was a summer program that put on at church called Heroes in Hebrews. She had a blast planning for it with a small group, working on it with the whole congregation and then teaching all the kids who turned out.
Aaron insists that we tell about Kitchi. His highlights: hunting rabbits and having Nana here.
Ken and Abbi celebrated their twentieth Anniversary by going to the US Virgin Islands in January.  Leaving behind minus forty temps, they enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather and warm water. Their AirBnB perched near the top of the mountain had a magnificent view of the cityscape and blue-green waters far below.
Shortly after Mara’s wedding, the other five of us flew to Washington DC in June and enjoyed touring the town. We were able to tour the White House, sit in the Senate Chambers while in session and watch a play at Ford’s Theater. Mt Vernon, riding rental bikes around town, seeing the Davidsons and a trip to the Atlantic Ocean were some other highlights of the trip.
On Labor Day weekend, we traveled to northeastern Iowa and met up with Mara and Thomas, where we explored Pike’s Peak and the historic little town of McGregor along the Mississippi River. We also enjoyed exploring the ice caves in nearby Decorah. 
Ken and Abbi discovered the joy of night-canoeing this fall. With the busyness of life and the shorter autumn days, they were having trouble getting out in the water very often. So they tried canoeing after dark and found they loved the peaceful water, night sounds and view of the stars.
Theater has been another fun activity involving most of the family. Mara, Megan and Aaron acted in The Reluctant Dragon in April. Last month, Aaron, Megan and Abbi were in the Broadway musical Annie. Jonathan ran the sound booth for both shows, plus a third during the summer. The Bemidji Community Theater is a vibrant and fun community. We truly enjoyed our time spent in it and appreciate the friends we have made.
                We are grateful for so many things this year. Having you in our lives in certainly high on the list!    

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Still Feeling Thankful

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving! I hope your heart is just overflowing with thankfulness to our Creator God who made everything for us and who sent His Son Jesus to redeem us and give us hope and peace.

We were blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with many of our family and a friend joining us. It was a day of singing of Thanks to the Giver of ALL good gifts, sharing what we are thankful for, preparing and enjoying an abundance of good food, games, laughter, a new baby and lots of love.

Heidi and Lars (niece and nephew) spent a few nights with us before Thanksgiving and the day before we were doing our normal song of the morning (we are just working our way through a hymn book) and our song was one of Thanksgiving. We had fun singing it together and then I suggested to Jonathan that he video it (as he loves to do that anyway) so that I could share it in celebration of Thanksgiving. Here it is, I hope it blesses you some way....

On Thanksgiving Jonathan did some more videoing and here is his compilation of Thanksgiving day. This was taken before the game playing began and before we actually dug into all the food that was prepared (including 15 pies! We did not eat them all. :-) )

 We had a lovely group of 22 people - but one was not yet a month old so she didn't do much eating.

These 3 boys make our lives much fuller. We feel so blessed to have these three nephews living close by and bringing so many smiles to our faces. Candles are for blowing out, are they not?

Speaking of blessings.... Parents/Grandparents that we get to see often, work together with and serve God with in His church. God is so good!
 A game we enjoy is one called the game of "Things". It takes some fun thinking.

 Some of our yummy pies. Though the meal was at our house I by no means did all the work. Everybody pitched in to make things, clean up and do all the work. It makes holidays pretty easy.

 Hanging out and visiting or singing is always fun too.


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