"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Emotional Roller Coaster of a Week

It was a wild and crazy week.  Some long time dreams began to unfold,  in the midst of a whole lot of mundane craziness.  It was a week of constant activity, those are always the hardest for me.

On Monday, I began a new job.  This summer I was looking through job listings, with my teenage children in mind, when I came across something that made my heart leap.  It was a job working with teens in a group/foster care setting.  I can not even totally explain why, goodness knows it was not too much time on my hands, but I immediately wanted to pursue it.  It has been a long time since I felt that way.  Practical or not, I just wanted to serve.  My heart has long ached to have more knowledge and experience in working with older kids from hard places.  I have all sorts of dreams for our home as it clears out, many of them include teens, yet I knew I did not have the knowledge or experience to truly pursue any of them.  This job seemed to be a God send.  It would give me training - both classroom style and hands-on.  The problem, of course, was time.  Chad agreed to me working one shift a week and one weekend a month.  So, I applied with those boundaries in mind.  I was hired to work as a sub.  Though I have gone to several trainings, which have been great, I had not met the kids until Monday.  I am very intrigued and excited to see just where all of this leads.

While I was at work Monday night (my shift is 3pm to 11pm) Mataya took a leap off the couch and hurt her foot.  Though she cried long and hard after the fall, she slept well.  Chad was hopeful that she was OK.  By mid-morning, I was not convinced.  While she was as active as ever, she was limping.  Two-year-olds don't limp.  So we enlisted Grandpa Scott to watch Wyatt and Mataya and I went to see the doctor.  She was a champ through the visit and x-rays.  BUT, she came home with "the boot."  Because of a hairline fracture on the top of her foot near her pinky toe, she was sentenced to 10 days in the boot.  Her pain from her fracture is not too bad.  her hatred for the boot comes and goes.  Sometimes she is OK with it.  Other times, she is NOT.  When Mataya is not happy, she is really NOT HAPPY.  It has been exhausting.



On Wednesday, a long time dream of Chad and myself began to unfold when we purchased a lake lot.  For many, many years we have prayed that in His time, God would open a door for us to have a lake property. My dream was very specific - it needed to be within 2 hours of our home, at a lake that was good for both fishing and playing, in an area that Chad and the kids could also hunt, with lots of gravel roads for me to run and bike on, right on the water, and not over crowded, and it needed to be affordable.  Chad and I have carefully watched listings for years and there was NOTHING that would fit my list perfectly.  Honestly, nothing even came very close.  However, in July, we found it!

I am still in awe at how it all unfolded, and as of Wednesday it is officially ours!  One little lakeside acre that we will develop into a haven away from home.  Mataya and Wyatt were both with us at the closing and together, we spent a fun afternoon exploring our lot.  Though I had dreaded having two toddlers with us that day, in the end, it was super special to have Wyatt.  One of the reasons Chad and I wanted a lake lot so badly was that we wanted a place where ALL our kids and grandkids could gather to just BE.  Having Wyatt there at the beginning of this new venture was precious.  He toddled all over the lot, gathering sticks and yelling for "Gampa."  Oh, Wy-guy, we are going to make so many more memories on that plot of prairie!

Here is a sneak peak:
 The whole development is on top of a hill.  We do have lake access, but it is at the bottom of a steep embankment.  That is both good and bad.  It is safer for the littles  and the view is amazing, but cutting steps into the cliff side will be a JOB!



 The sandy area is a swim beach.


I swore I would never build another home, unless it was a lake home.  Believe it or not, I am totally excited to begin building next spring.  We will do almost everything by ourselves on a shoestring budget.  I am soooo up for the challenge.  We will live in the camper while we build the cabin and sell the camper once it is complete.  We have three years to complete it, so we are planning to build and play.  We want to get it done - but NOT at the break neck speed we had to build our home.  I am hoping to enjoy this process.  HOPING!!


 This will be the view from my bedroom.  The cabin will be small.  One of the reasons we love camping is that we all share the same space, we want to make sure the cabin is snuggly.  The plan is all our own and will be submitted for a permit tomorrow!  If all goes as we hope, we will build a detached garage yet this fall.  Our garage at home is too full!  In the spring we will begin working on the cabin.


I am not even sure I can adequately explain how humbly grateful I am that God opened this door.  I nearly wept as we drove into the development after closing.  THIS opportunity to create a space for people to hang and connect and rest is such an incredible blessing.

Thursday, I had an all day first aid and CPR class.  It was an emotionally exhausting day.  So many things discussed brought back far from healed memories of the morning my grandma died.  I was exhausted to begin with, which never helps - but it was NOT a fun day.  The bright spot was knowing Mataya was happy and safe with her Grammy though.

Friday was chaos.  Mataya was a total barracuda.  She had had enough of the boot.  I had a ton of work to do at my office.  My house looked like it should given the level of crazy the week entailed.  I was completely wiped both physically and emotionally - but payroll got done and Mataya was kept safe, if not happy.  And as the sun went down. Brenna celebrated an important Dietrich milestone when she harvested her first deer.

She was so incredibly pleased.  It was so very wonderful to celebrate with her after such a hard day.  

A few things I want to remember about that night:
 - the first person she called to tell of her success was her Great Grandpa Hoff who is the source of the family hunting fettish.  He was waiting up for her call.
-next called Grammy.  I LOVE all the family connection.
-she group texted Sierra, Jamison, and I of her harvest.  Jamison's response of "ATTA GIRL!" brought tears to both my and Sierra's eyes.  Man, we miss that guy.
-when she got home her eyes were sparkling and happy and proud, as were her dad's.

They headed to the garage to get that stinky animal on ice, while I crashed, feeling incredibly thankful for sleep.

Saturday was a very special day for my husband.  You see, when her was 12 or 13 he bought his first car.  He worked on it constantly though out middle school and high school.  He took me to the Prom in it.  We drove it to our wedding.  And then life happened.  Kids and business and lack of space and time and money caused his first love to spend about 20 years in storage.  She (the car) became mouse infested, scratched, stinky, and in need of a major overhaul.  Chad waited patiently,and finally last winter he began working on the old girl.  The goal was to have her up and running for Jamison's graduation, and although that did not happen, SATURDAY it did.  

 Chad still has a list of this and that he dreams of perfecting, but all in all this car has never looked better.  And it has certainly never run better.  It was so fun to just drive.  Feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and chill next to my boyfriend of forever.  It was incredibly therapeutic.  Seeing Chad drive with his "car grin" plastered on his face was pretty therapeutic as well.
 Chad and I went to lunch, and then we headed over to his grandparent's home.  

The first time I ever met Chad's grandpa it was very late at night.  We were on a date and this very car was struggling.  A hose had blown and Chad needed tools.  He woke up his grandpa, who patiently got dressed and came out into the dusk to help him repair the hose.  When we finally had this beauty out and running like a top, we both knew Grandpa needed to be among the first to get a ride.
Chad and his grandpa are two peas in a pod.  Chad looks more like his grandpa than anyone else, by a landslide, and they share many of the same interests.  Seeing them together makes my heart ache a little these days.  Time is fleeting, and I want to soak in every moment.


We headed home and took the kids for a cruise.  (Mataya is in a car seat.)  They were hilarious!  Mataya and Joshua loved the wind in their hair.  The giggled and goaded their daddy to drive faster the entire time.

Today, Chad and Joshua brought the camper to the lake lot and did some garage prep work.  The girls and I played catch-up at home.  It was noisy.  Mataya is struggling.  The boot is making her crazy, which makes me crazy, which makes us all crazy.

While I am thankful for the BIG highs of last week, I am hoping for a calmer, gentler week.  

As I tucked Mataya in tonight, I prayed her usual blessing "Mataya Hope, may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him."  In spicy Mataya fashion, she repeated every phrase like this "No Taya Hope. . . No fill you.  . no joy and peace. . . no trust Him. . . no like bedtime!!!!!"  And as I think on it now, that is often how I approach His joy and peace.  Things are good.  Peaceful.  Blessings abound.  And I am busy thinking of the next thing.  Rushing.  Refusing the moment.  Refusing to chill out and trust.

She is so like me.

(I'm sorry baby girl!)

This week I vow to savor, to allow Him to fill me, to trust and to embrace His rest.  By His strength.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mataya Hope at 2.5

At 2.5 Mataya Hope. . .
*is absolutely, positively "the baby of the family" in every sense of the word.  While she is quite grown up for her age, her approach to life is that of a "baby."  She works a crowd, sweetly charming all around her, seeing just how much attention she can get.  And when things don't quite go her way. . . all sweetness disappears and a big old fit ensues.  (Not always, of course.  She is not a monster child - but her approach at life is textbook baby.  It cracks me up because although Brenna was the baby for many years, as was Joshua, she is the first that fits the "baby" mold in terms of personality and problem solving.)
*is a total momma's girl.  "NO!!!!! Momma do it!" is shouted often and loudly when anyone else wishes to help her.  When she hears that I am planning to go anywhere her first words are always, "I go with you?"  She does fine when I am away, but weeps at the very thought.
*cries, "I just want my Daddy" in a small pitiful voice when momma refuses her.  BUT only when he is not home to come to her rescue.
*hates going to bed.
*loves all things preschool - painting, coloring, play dough, sidewalk chalk, puzzles, short videos, and books - lots and lots of books.


*is very literal in her play.  I often find water in the sink of her play kitchen.  She gets real utensils out when she is "cooking."  She keeps the sippy cup she is drinking from in her pretend fridge.
*has graduated from the "froggy potty."  (YES!!!  While the potty chair was a step up from diapers, simply flushing trumps dumping out that little bucket by a landslide!)
*loves to play with dolls.  Once again she is very literal.  They need matching clothes, blankets, bottles, etc...)  I love to watch her rock and bounce and talk to them!
*enjoys her nephew Wyatt.  They even (sort of) play together once in a while!
*is very physical and active.  She loves to race, climb, and jump.  She walks in the store (ugh!) and has totally vetoed the stroller.
*loves to change clothes.  She goes through about 5 outfits a day.
*does very well playing while I work at the office.  She likes to explore in daddy's machines when given the chance.

*has an incredible vocabulary and speaks paragraphs.  One day she told me, "Mom, Brenna gave me chap chap."  I responded how nice it was that Brenna shared.  She chirped back, "Brenna is amazing mommy.  I look up at her!"
*speaks about herself in first person.  When asked her name she usually responds, "TayTay."  But sometimes she says, "Mataya."
*she likes to count everything.
*if asked what she wants to do, she usually says "go to zoo!"  Mommy's IPad is another favorite.  Ugh!
*likes the color pink best.
*can sit through an entire movie, when she chooses.  That is fun because movies are a favorite Friday night activity around here.
*loves to tease.
*is NOT happy that Jamison went to college.  She has only seen him once since he moved out and she refused to talk to him or hug him.  She told me, "I mad at him.  He go away!"
*eats like a bird.  This little one has never had a very big appetite.
*understands that God heals.  All summer long we have been praying for God to heal one injury or another - bug bites, skinned knees, stubbed toes. . . Last week I had a nasty stomach ache.  When she heard about it Mataya said, "God will heal it mommy.  I pray for you."  She continued with eyes scrunched closed, "God mommy tummy.  Heal it.  Amen."
*likes the alone time with mom when the kids are at school.
*has begun responding to almost everything with "why?"
*is soooo excited about the baby girl in her big sister's tummy.  She talks about the beby all the time.  She can not wait to see her.  She says, "I will hold her in chair.  I sing her a song and kiss her.  She be sooo cute."  Mataya insisted that we dig out the rock and play so the baby has a place to sleep at our house once she arrives.  She also begs to buy her things every time we are shopping.  And every item she picks is... pink!  Her excitement is so precious.

Chad and I often laugh because Mataya is so different than our first four children.  She is wild and carefree and manipulative in a way they were not.  I have said many times that she is making me a better grandma!  Things that I took for granted with the other kids have not come easy with her.  For example, nursing was a bust.  I always thought anyone could nurse if they worked at it hard enough.  She changed my mind!  There was a time when she was truly not capable of sitting quietly for more than 5-10 minutes.  Chad and I always took the oldest kids everywhere with us.  With Mataya, we chose activities carefully.  We took turns going to the older kids' concerts and did not go out to eat for about six months.  It was not a behavior problem, she was just not capable.  Another new experience.

Mataya is truly the sweetest little thing.  She is bold and silly and pure fun 85% of the time.  She waves happily to strangers and chats with lonely old men at restaurants.  She radiates joy.  And yet. . .she can turn on a dime and throw a fit like few others.  Some days she depletes me to a level I did not think a two year old could deplete a parent.  Thankfully, most days she is all sunshine and completes us in such a delightful way.  I have never enjoyed a little person more, but she is no robot!  He doctor called her out well.  At her one year check he told me, "She is really smart.  Give her an inch, she will take a mile.  I suggest a short leash!"  (Keep in mind he has been our pediatrician for 20 years.  He knows me well, and I he.  His casual speech was fitting of our relationship.)

One day last week we had a perfectly, perfect morning.  We dressed dollies.  Colored.  Made supper together (she loves to mix and measure).  Did an exercise video.  Read books.  Folded clothes.  And I introduced her to Dora the Explorer on video.  (yes, on purpose)  She loved it, especially because I danced and yelled to Dora and Boots right along with her.  At nap time, she gave me the biggest, tightest hug and said, "It a good day momma.  You my best friend."

Those moments are the ones I want to hide in my heart.  Forever.
Mataya Hope, you are a gift.  I am so thankful God sent you to us.  So thankful!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lingering Wisdom

As my grandfather was at home under family and hospice care awaiting his entrance to glory, I had the opportunity to spend one night at his bedside.  It was a long and sleepless, yet sacred night.  Watching my grandpa linger uncomfortably was unbelievably hard - but it was also such a gift to be near him.  I do not even know how to explain what an honor it was and how incredibly healing it was, to be allowed so near him during his last days in this world.  I will be forever grateful for those hours.

One memory will be forever etched in my soul.

Grandpa was alternating between restlessness and deep sleep all night.  He seemed "out of it," for lack of a better phrase.  His speech was slurred, and he seemed to be fairly unaware. . . yet there were moments when his perfect awareness shone through.  The only thing I can compare it to are the exhausted naps I have taken during movies with my toddlers - part of my brain can be snoozing while another part is on high alert, listening for any sign of toddler naughtiness, which could result in danger.  Grandpa knew everything that was happening around him; he was just too exhausted to respond most of the time.

I had set my alarm all night, drifting in and out of a light sleep, but waking about every hour to give Grandpa medication.  My dad, who had not slept soundly in days, snored in a nearby bedroom.  My mom, who had slept far less, dozed in a chair right next to her daddy, touching his hand or arm every moment.  Hymns played constantly.  As dawn approached, I fell soundly asleep in a recliner, positioned close to them both.

I awakened slowly.  I was aware of quiet movement.  Grandpa's mumbling.  And then my mom's quiet voice joining his.  With my own eyes closed, I listened. . . eavesdropping on one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

"Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.
Amen."

I lay there with my own eyes closed, soaking it in and savoring the beauty.  The faith.  The heritage.  The blessing.  Silently begging God for His mercy and presence during these last moments with my grandpa.  Receiving His grace.

I climbed out of my chair shortly after, made coffee, and tried to be as "normal" as possible.  (How can you be "normal" at times like this? And yet "normal" is just what everyone craves.) But my momma knew I had witnessed their moment.  Momma's always know, even when you are 41 and a momma and grandma yourself, your momma knows.  She squeezed me and whispered, "Did you hear him praying?"  And we blinked back thankful, brokenhearted tears together for a moment before going on to reposition him . . . or something of the sort.

Less than a week later, at my Grandpa's prayer service, my brave, kind, and ever-so-wise momma shared some wisdom her daddy had passed onto her.  Grandpa had confided that for many, many years he had asked God to protect his children and keep them safe.  Then one sad, sad year his youngest son, my Uncle Robert, died of melanoma.  In his grief, Grandpa learned a new way to pray for his children.  It went like this "Your kingdom come, Lord.  Your will be done."

And that was, perhaps, the very last prayer he uttered.  With his firstborn daughter at his side, and his firstborn granddaughter eavesdropping.

I share this today because I do not want to forget.  I don't want to forget the wisdom.  I do not want to forget the blessing.  I do not want to forget the peace that hovered over that room in those moments.

May his wisdom linger always, like a thick fog, over many, many generations.  May our prayer be his prayer.  The prayer Jesus taught us.

Oh, Grandpa.  Thank you.  You did not "preach" to me often, but this lesson will linger always.  It was just what I needed to hear as I learn to launch my "babies" into the world of adulting.  And as I learn to "adult" without your home to run to when I am weary.

This beautiful song plays often on my radio and further cements Grandpa's lesson. I adore it, and the beautiful reminder.



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Back to School 2016

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I hate back to school!  I like my kids HOME - but since I do not feel home schooling is the right choice for our family, and I DO value education, back to school is inevitable!

This morning, I sent three smiling and hopeful young people off to continue their educations.  Not one tear was shed.  (Not even by me!)

 Sierra is a junior in high school.  She has a pretty tough academic schedule this year.  She is also working at an after school program each day, and she is playing recreational volley ball a couple of nights a week.  She also participates in and volunteers at many church activities.  She is a busy girl, and she loves it that way.  The shoulder injury she received freshman year was life altering.  In all reality it took her a long, long time to recover emotionally.  She will never be the same physically.  BUT at this point she can see God's handprints all over it.  He did render her physically incapable of some things - cheer included.  However, He also met her in the pain and confusion and showed her to a new path.  She would tell you that her focus is now on better things and for that she gives Him all the glory.  
 Brenna is in eighth grade.  She has a varied schedule which includes both choir and band and advanced math.  She is running cross country this fall as well.  It feels as though she is on the edge of so much.  High school with all its fun and freedom and added peer issues is just around the corner.  I am trying to spend as much one on one time with her as possible.  I am very intentionally trying to pour into her, connect with her, and enjoy her every chance I get.
And this stinker is in second grade.  Though he looks like he is very sad, he was ready for school.  He even spoke with his teacher at the open house yesterday!  (I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but trust me, it IS!!!)  Joshua does not love school.  The structure, focus, and constant demands are hard for him.  He does not like to read or write.  He is a capable student, however he reluctant, maybe even resistant, rather than passionate. My prayer for him this year is that he begins to love learning.  Thus far he has done what is asked, but he has NO joy in anything he has accomplished.  I am trusting the Lord to change his heart and create a love of learning.  I would be thrilled if you would join me! 


Mataya thought the world had gone mad when she woke up this morning.  We were all up and dressed at dawn, AND it was cold outside.  (It was very chilly.  Unseasonably so.)  She was NOT impressed!  She perked up after everyone was gone though.  She loves to have me to herself!  We spent the morning running errands and working at my office.  We also had lunch, played play dough, watered the flowers, took a nap, and made supper.  

Looking back, summer was exactly what I needed.  It was so healing.  I was absolutely depleted when it began.  I needed rest, sunshine, flexibility, quiet and the love of my family to help me find me again.  God used each of them to love me and support me in very specific ways.  I am so thankful for the way He (and they) love me.

And now. . . I am ready to take on routine again.

For everything there is a season. 


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our Home with No Teenagers?

It has been the weirdest week.  Jamison moved into the dorm; meanwhile, Sierra and Brenna flew to Arizona to visit my aunt.  So, for the first time in nearly 17 years, we have only had two children under our roof.  You would think it would be fun. . . and it was, in a way.  But it was also quiet and foreboding.  Time passes so quickly.  In a blink, the girls will be heading into the world as well.

It is the strangest feeling to have our household shrink.  For 22 years it has been growing.  Every year I have needed to plan for more.  Krissy left home so soon after Mataya was born that our numbers felt steady, rather than shrinking - so this is new to me!

Having Jamison leave is so good!  We are so proud of him and his choices.  I could not be more comfortable with his plan.  It feels natural and right.

And yet it is just sooooo weird.  Knowing he's "off" is totally rewarding.  He was an (almost) complete joy to raise.  Yet layered into the pride and excitement and joy is grief.

He's gone.

His bedroom smells like clean sheets.

His closet is nearly empty.

There is no reason to leave the outside lights on when we head to bed.  He's not coming home.

And even though that is as it should be, there is a part of my heart that is so very sad.  How can that time when "under our roof" was where he belonged be over?

(OK, enough of that!)

Here he stands in his dorm room, surrounded by all of his worldly possessions!

Moving him into the dorm was blessedly simple.  He moved in a couple of weeks before the rest of the Freshman class because he will start training with the cross country team.  There were only 12 guys moving into his dorm the day he was.  We pulled up to the door, carried up all his stuff, fixed his bed, took a quick look around the building, and he hugged us good-bye.  He didn't want help unpacking or decorating - so we were in and out of the University in 45 minutes!  He is rooming with a high school buddy, and with practice starting the very afternoon we dropped him off, I know he will be busy and developing friendships.  I am very grateful for the simplicity!

So - you can pray that his legs hold up!  He has not been able to run the same mile-age as his teammates over the summer because his stress reactions are still healing.  He seems to be solid, but the true test will be when quality workouts start.  His coach has successfully rehabilitated other runners with similar injuries and for that I am thankful.  I am most certainly praying that the stress reactions are behind him once and for all!

You can also pray for him as he adapts to working during the school year/athletic seasons.  He has never worked during the school year in the past.  Learning to juggle harder classes, athletic responsibilities, and a job will be a challenge - but I also think it will provide some balance. 

With all the older kids away, I had planned several activities with Joshua.  But, in the end, he didn't like my plan.  Instead, he had a play date with a buddy and a sleepover with his Grammy.  We did spend one morning riding horse at my dad's, and we snuggled up to watch a couple of movies.  (Movies are his love language.)

Joshua is loving horseback riding lately.

Mataya, not so much.  She thinks the horses are awesome. . . from the road.  When we get close, she clings to me like a suction cup.
 "Techno-snuggles"
When Joshua was at Grammy's, I took these two cuties to the zoo.  Mataya loves the zoo; Wyatt loves anyplace with a bunch of people to smile at, so it was a hit!


One thing we learned this week is that we  LOVE teenagers.  We have missed their chatter and drama and intelligent conversation so very much.  Even Chad has said, "I really miss the kids!" And he usually makes fun of me for that!  Ha!!  Four more hours and the girls will be home!  

I can not wait!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Girls Getaway 2016

I believe that sometimes we need to be intentional about bonding. So, last year I decided to take my girls on a little getaway once each summer.  These getaways are not fancy or extravagant.  Just me and the girls, alone in the camper doing girl stuff.

We sleep late.  Eat specially planned meals - everyone gets a pick.  Give each other pedicures.  Watch chick flicks.  Nap in the sun.  Spend time together reading scripture.  Take walks.  Skip stones.  Kayak.  Swim.  Play cards.  In all reality, what we do is not as important as the fact that we choose to carve out a few days to just BE together.

I don't have a sister, and one of my heart's desires is that my daughters treasure each other.  That they love deep and stick together through thick and thin.  My girls are all very much their own people.  They each have different strengths and weaknesses.  If they choose to, they balance each other well.

It makes my heart happy to see my girls together.  When they laugh together I feel as if I may burst.  When I see them listening to each other and sharing advice, my heart sighs.  And when we all snuggled up together on the couch to watch "Little Mermaid" I wished that time could stand still.  There is no greater gift than time.  I pray that these girls will always choose each other as friends, confidants, mentors, and co-conspirators!

My girlios indulged me in a "sister-shoot."  And I am sharing all my favorites.  (Yep!  I have a lot of favorites!!)














































I also took a few candid shots throughout the week.


 Little Mermaid snuggles

 Mataya's first pedicure.  She said, "That tickles!"





I soooo appreciate the way the older girls include Mataya.  They never complain when we need to spend some time doing "little" things.  They are the sweetest of mentors, and I am so very thankful!


(Krissy was not able to be with us much because of her school schedule, but we did drive to her small town for ice cream.  Hopefully next year, she and her baby girl, can spend more time with us!)