I’m writing this at 4:30 AM. Baby O slept until 4:00 AM when she wanted a bottle. This is the longest stretch of sleep I have gotten in over four months. For that, I am grateful…and a little wide awake.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s relaxing. There aren’t any presents. Delicious food abounds. And there’s family. This year has been especially nice, and here are some reasons why:
1. My in-laws are a lot of fun; I lucked out!
2. The cousins are old enough to entertain themselves and play together
3. Our 11 year old niece is extremely helpful with Baby O
4. I got to spend one-on-one time with both my sisters-in-law
5. We played games
6. We ate. Boy did we eat! A ham meal at noon & turkey at suppertime
7. Stretchy leggings. Enough said.
8. Thanks to the Pollock Lutheran Church we had lefse!
This life isn’t easy. It’s great, but it isn’t easy. We spend a lot of time thinking about what more we want and need and not so much about what we have, but boy do we have a lot to be thankful for today and all days.
I hope your holiday week had been wonderful and family-filled. As Frank Reagan explains (I’ma Blue Bloods fan), when everyone else is gone, all we’ve got is family.
Where in the world did the last ten years go? Fifteen years ago, I was a senior in high school. It was a blast. Not that I want to be done having fun, but I certainly had enough fun in high school to last a few lifetimes. Then, college flew by like an absolute whirlwind, and all of a sudden it is the end of 2019.
In the fall of 2009, I was a college senior completing my student teaching semester at Mobridge-Pollock High School. I was engaged to marry John and had moved to the North Country a few months earlier. Life was stressful but exciting. I was unsure of myself; I was not certain what the future would hold; I was desperately homesick. And then, November came.
Last week marked 10 years since I began my teaching job in Mobridge. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, a middle school reading position needed to be filled ASAP! Although I was not finished with student teaching, I was placed in my own classroom. At that time, I was also coaching middle school volleyball. The first weekend in November, I took a team of girls to Watertown for a weekend-long tournament, and when I returned to school that Monday, I was no longer going to be simply learning how to be a teacher; I was going to be teaching my own classroom. Those first weeks and months were wild. I kept my head above water, and that was an accomplishment. But at that time, with graduation looming and only two months before the wedding, I had absolutely no clue what the next ten years would hold for me. And boy, was I in for a surprise.
In the last decade I have:
Graduated from SDSU with a B.A., graduated from NSU with a MS.Ed., and began work on an M. Div. (at least school has remained constant)
Gotten married and celebrated 9, soon to be 10, anniversaries
Moved into our own home and completed various updates to our dear home
Quit teaching after 8 years to begin seminary and share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Had three children; my heart almost explodes because I love them so much. I always wanted a yard-full of kids, but I think three will have to do. I just don’t think this mama’s heart can take all of the emotions of having another sweet baby.
Said “Good-Bye” to all four of my grandparents
Who would have thought that ten years could hold so much?! At 23 years old, I would have never guessed that life would be this dang wonderful. It isn’t always easy; as a matter of fact, it isn’t ever easy. But this life is so good.
My prayer is this:
Almighty God, with a grateful heart, I give you thanks for this life. Thank you for letting us live into your creation. It isn’t easy, but you didn’t promise it would be. I ask for your forgiveness when my sights rest on the earthly gifts around me instead of on your saving Word. Christ says, “But not a hair on your head will perish.” Although this old world will have the best of us in the end, You have saved the best for us in the age to come; send your Holy Spirit to remind me of this always. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is my friend Erica. She is awesome, or to use a phrase she herself uses: bomb dot com. Can you tell she has tween-ager kids and spends her time around church kids all day, e’ryday?
Erica is the type of person to dress up as a hotdog or bring a Martin Luther cookie to a party just because it makes people happy. She’s the life of the party and always makes sure a group photo is taken.
Life is crazy, right? It’s hard. It’s stressful. We are all pulled in a million different directions. It is my hope for you that you have or can find an Erica in your life: someone who plans VBS around a mechanical bull, spreads love like crazy, or just dresses up like a hotdog for funzies, because it is those people in our lives that make the hard days bearable and the good days amazing.
UPS Jeff is almost like family. We see him on a weekly basis. He was actually one of the first people to meet two-day-old baby Orpha. The boys get as excited to see that big brown truck coming down the road as they do when the garbage truck chugs down the alley.
In a small town, we’re creative with the activities we find entertaining. In my [strong] opinion, it’s the little things like these that make life wonderful. Finances, cattle, & church keep us pretty well rooted, but we could probably still find a way to travel a bit, but why would we want to leave this little chunk of paradise? We’ve got our own waterpark across the street thanks to Neighbor Kent for running the sprinklers at the Presbyterian church. This is the same Kent who provides my children with hours of entertainment watching him mow and visiting his awesome garage; it has a television! There are cars to wave at and trees to rope and tie. Like I said, it’s the little things.
I know Amazon and other internet companies are part of the reason Small Town Main Street has suffered. But truly, Amazon and the ability to ship nearly anything is what makes it possible to stay in Small Town, America. And thanks to UPS Jeff, our packages arrive right on time.
Well, it’s a big day today. Weezer tickets went on sale this morning for their Hella Mega tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy. It’s also the day Dowton Abbey comes out in theaters. But, it’s also a day of fall cattle work.
This has been an exceptional year for moisture up here in the north country. The pastures are still green and full of grass. We rarely have green grass when the leaves start to change. So, this is a treat.
I’m thankful for this place and this view. It’s still unbelievable that this is home. Today the view is breathtaking.
The other day I looked out on the deck and saw a scene that made my heart swell. My 6 year old son was sitting next to his grandpa talking and talking (I assume about cattle), and his grandpa just sat and visited with him about it. Grandpas are amazing aren’t they? So patient and loving; taking time that moms and dads often can’t because of work and other responsibilities.
I had a grandpa who always took time: time for talks, time for stories, time for driving lessons, time to remind his grandkids how much they were loved.
I hope you and your children have grandpas in your lives who take the time for the important things like cattle talks, fort planning, and story telling.
Life is short, and as a mom I need to take a cue from grandparents. It’s not always about what work needs to be done. Much of the time it’s about sitting on a deck and simply listening.
Good and gracious God, thank you for the people in our lives who bring us joy and love, especially grandparents. We thank you and praise you for the gift of daily bread provided by those around us. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, we pray. Amen.
Living in rural America has its challenges; one of which is purchasing reasonably priced groceries, clothing, and household items. Something I have noticed, is that it is super easy to make assumptions about other people, especially the way they spend their money. As a seminary student, vicar of a rural parish, and busy mom of three, I have to be creative about the way I spend my money. Thankfully, my husband and I are both frugal, and we have worked together to make this wonderful life we are living.
Here are some ways that we save and manage our money:
Wal-Mart: If you have kept up with my blog over the years, you know I love Wal-Mart. Their children’s clothes are amazing! They have cute styles at very affordable prices. My newest favorite thing about Wal-Mart is their grocery pick-up service. This allows me to pick out everything I need ahead of time and simply pull up to the delivery bay without going into the store and purchasing things I don’t really need.
Buying local when possible! I know there are some rural mamas who make their weekly trips to the bigger cities to purchase groceries and things, but I have found that it is much cheaper for our family to buy what we need locally when we need it. Traveling 100+ miles to the bigger cities costs money, plus it usually includes going out to eat and purchasing snacks for the trip. When we do shop at Wal-Mart or Target, it is because we are already making a trip through the city for another reason.
Second-hand stores: We have a great local thrift store. It is run by the ministerial association, and the profits support various ministries throughout the community. In addition to the great things the store does for the community and those in need, it is also a great place to purchase low-priced goods. For example, I recently purchased 2 brand new photo albums for $.50 a piece! Thankfully I had not hit the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, because the album I had in my Amazon cart was over well over $10. There is also a great consignment shop in Bismarck called Clothes Mentor. They sell name-brand, gently-used women’s clothing. I have found great deals, and I love the idea of reusing clothing instead of adding more clothing waste to this already full world.
Because of the ways my family saves money, we have been able to pay down our debt, pay off student loans, and make home improvements without building up credit card debt, all on our modest incomes.
I am so thankful for this world God has created for us to live in. I pray that you are basking in His love and creation without the stresses that finances can add to life. If you have stories or tips of your own that you would like to share, please comment below.