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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dear Younger Me,

Once upon a time, I was a young mom with four kids all seven and under.  When we went places, people stared.  They rushed to open doors.  They frequently asked how they could help me.  But in reality, it was EASY.  My kids were all the same age.  They were all into the same toys and activities. They all went to bed by 7:30 PM!  Life was simple.  Business was small, as was our home, mortgage, and thus our responsibilities.

When I was that young mom, my kids got baths every day.  Their toys were put away each night.  and bedtime never wavered - even on vacation.  Life was structured and regimented and safe.  In truth, that was my survival skill.  Routine made parenting my tribe of tinies simple.

When I was that young mom, I would roll my eyes (internally, of course) at those parents who had their children at the grocery store at 9:00, when they should be home in bed.

And then, 13 years later, THIS happened.

I now only have one tiny.  And her daily routine is NOTHING like the routine I had with her older siblings.  In fact, her "routine" is to be flexible and to go with the flow.

Life is much more complicated these days.  My children are ALL different ages.  They require a multitude of different things from me each and every day.  Business is bigger, as are my responsibilities there.  Our home is bigger.  The kids clothes and appetites are bigger.  Life has expanded.  

Last night, as Mataya and I headed to Walmart at 9 PM, I had to giggle at the younger me.  I miss her and her life sometimes.

And yet, the older me is wiser, gentler, more flexible, and much less judgmental.

I have learned that sometimes kids are at Walmart at 9 PM because no matter how hard their mom tried to keep them awake all afternoon, they fell asleep at 6 PM and woke at 7:30 raring to go.  And if you're going to be awake until 11:30 with a preschooler, you may as well get your groceries bought, right?!?  (Breaking the afternoon nap habit with Mataya has been rough!  She is not ready for a nap at a normal time, and then drops late in the day no matter how hard we try to keep her awake.)

More importantly, I have learned that things are far from simple.  Different things work for different kids.  And safety does not come from routine, it comes from the heart.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunset Dreams

I love to watch the sunset.

We do not have a good sunset view at our home, but is my VERY FAVORITE thing about the lake.  Every evening, I wait for it.  I plan for it.  I celebrate it.  I savor it.  I seriously stop what I am doing and just breathe in the last colors of the day.  Every day.

Today I read this quote, "It is almost impossible to watch the sunset and not dream."

Oh, that is so true for me.

As I watch the sunset, I do not plan or scheme or think things through - but I do dream.  I allow my brain and body to fully rest and simply soak in the beauty that is all around me.  And in those pure moments, I am free.  Free of worry.  Free of responsibilities.  Free of duty.  Free.

I don't know what your "sunset" - that sweet spot where you feel perfectly surrounded by peace and beauty is.  BUT, I urge you to chase after it until you find it.  Plan for it.  Savor it.  Celebrate it.

Days are long.

Life, however, is short.

Take time to dream.

PS - We finished the siding!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Simply Playing

The tension was real this week.  I knew with every fiber of my being that the Lord was calling me to rest.  And I did, or at least I tried.  BUT the truth is that I started the week over-committed.  I had WAY too much to do.  It was unavoidable.  So while I did my best to cut out what I could and to approach the rest with a calm and peaceful spirit, the week remained off balance, exhausting and, well, tense.

Thankfully, the weekend was not.

This weekend, we rested.

And played.

And that is IT.

Here is proof!

We had nearly forgotten what #lakelife is all about!

It was good to remember.  To breathe deep.  To laugh long.  To nap.  To long run on fresh legs.  To feel the hot sun soaking deep into my bones. To anticipate and appreciate this get-away God has allow us to create.

Next weekend, the work continues.  As it should.  And I am thankful for the chance we have to build our dream, one weekend at a time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Day I Walked. . .

My life has been filled with RUSH this summer.  Rush to the lake.  Rush to get home. Rush to get our construction completed.  Rush to get supper done.  Rush to buy groceries.  Rush to do the laundry.  Rush to water flowers.  Rush to clean the house.  Rush to get Brenna to one activity or another. Rush to complete work tasks.  Rush to squeeze some quality family activities into the mix.  Rush to get the kids in the bath.  Rush to get them to bed.  Rush to get up in the morning.  Rush to complete my run so I can rush through the rest of the day.

This morning I got up at 5:15, as always.  I was more weary than exhausted.

Weary of the rush.

I awakened thinking. . .  knowing, that there is more to life than RUSH.

And then, with tenderness and grace, God gently reminded me that rush is not His plan.  It is my mistake..

Here are three quotes He brought to my attention before 6:30 AM.

"Today, you and I have a choice:
We can stop.
Be still and breathe.

Rest with Jesus and hear Him whisper,
Be beloved, not busy.
Come away with me. Today."
-Bonnie Gray

"Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest a while." Mark 6:31

"Busyness doesn't prove significance.  Activity isn't productivity.  A busy life can be a barren life.  Be still and listen to God."  Rick Warren

When you hear the same message three times, you better pay attention.  Right?!?

S    L    O     W    I     N     G               D     O     W     N      is not easy for me.  I knew God was calling to stop the madness and SLOW DOWN.  So, although my plan had been to run a brisk five miler and return to shower before rushing Brenna to practice at 8:40 - as a physical act of both obedience and healing, I walked  this morning.  In fact, I practically strolled.  Exercise was not my priority.  Quieting myself was.

I walked until I found quiet.

In that quiet, I walked listening to the birds, the leaves, the snap of a twig as a deer ran from me, insects swarming my ears.  I walked listening to my heart, hearing my own thoughts, and handing them to the Lord.  I walked watching for beauty - magnificent cloud formations in the sky, a blue jay, twin fawns following their momma, the many colors of green that God paints onto foliage.

I hardly broke a sweat, and I definitely did not burn enough calories to make up for the scoop of ice cream I devoured this afternoon.  However, I DID return home more centered. . . much more prepared to go about my day replacing rush with intentionality.

Living intentionally is something I must constantly practice.  I slip easily and quickly into the routine of rush.  There is just so much to do, and it is easier to rush than to breathe.  It's easier to take control, rather than to trust.  If I do not rush, how will I get it all done?

Even more importantly, (God whispers) if you do not slow down, savor, notice the moments, what will you miss?  You must choose intentionality.

As if to test my resolve, Mataya came bursting out of the house the moment she saw me walking up the driveway.  She had a huge grin as she raced to give me a ginormous hug, and yell, "MOM!!!! I missed you!  Are you done running?" all in one breathe.  I gave her a huge squeeze and suggested she help me water the flowers.

"Yay!!" she said.  "I love watering!"

So we began the task of dragging the hose from plant to plant.  As we went, Riley, our golden retriever, insisted on drinking from the hose for what felt like ten minutes.  (He does have three bowls filled with water in the garage - but I guess they are not as cold?)  Then Mataya insisted on smelling each flower on each plant.  At one point I nearly growled, "Mataya, they all smell the same!  Go to the next plant and see how it smells!"  But. . . luckily I looked at her instead.  

Really looked at her.  I soaked in her bedhead.  Her long eyelashes.  Her contented joy.  Her pure sweetness.  And rather than grumbling, I snapped her photo.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Siding. . .

As normal people spent a beautiful, hot, and almost wind-free Fourth of July weekend at the lake, Chad and our crew of construction kids, tackled siding the cabin.  I could lie and say it was fun - but the whole truth is it wasn't.  It was work.  Work is satisfying.  I am proud of the progress and impressed with the quality results - but it was not fun.  Truth be told, I don't actually enjoy the work of construction.  I DO enjoy the results.  And when your dream is bigger than your budget, hard work often makes up the deficit.  

Thursday afternoon when we arrived, there was not one piece of siding on the cabin.  Chad's employees do siding work on jobs quite often.  Chad has never done it.  So, it took us a bit of time to figure out the task and how to best accomplish it.

 The first day we worked, we only completed this one small wall.  I thought we would be siding for a month of weekends. . .
(Mataya makes me happy.  Her chatter and joyful exploration is like a cool breeze.)

 The next day went a lot smoother.  Chad and I got into a groove.  We worked a 14 hour day - but we got three walls completed!  
 I was COMPLETELY exhausted when we went to bed that night, but I was also proud of all we had accomplished.  We promised the kids that we would not work as long the next day.  We would break for the afternoon to do something fun.

 We started with a nap because we were to tired to have fun without a nap first.

Then we ran into town for some ice cream.

We sided for a hour or two, had supper, and then headed out on the lake with the boat for the very first time.  The kids were thrilled.  I was honestly too tired to care.  I went.  I helped get the boat in and out of the water.  I smiled and laughed with the kids - but my heart would have preferred an early bedtime.

We got up very early the next morning to resume our task.  We knew that it was going to be very HOT, so we wanted to work during the early morning hours.

(Brenna and I from the lift.)

I learned to run the lift.  The kids thought it was fun and funny to see mom operating it.  They made sure to be in the basket with me whenever possible.

Before the siding goes on, there is special tape that goes around all the windows and on the seams of the insulation board.  That is a good job for Brenna and I to do while Chad preps more technical aspects for each wall.

By the time we left the lake, we had 5 of 7 walls done.  Chad worked like two men.  I worked like one mom and one laborer.  (I also logged an 8 mile long run, a 3 mile recovery run, and a 5 mile regular run!) Brenna worked like a part-time laborer.  Joshua and Mataya provided comic relief.

There you have it.

 Chad and I and the littles are headed back today to plug away at those last two walls.  I am really hoping that we will be done with siding this weekend.

Really hoping!

I have been joking with Chad that this is a one time deal.  I told him that we have really good insurance, and if we ever get hailed out I will HAPPILY drink sangria while I watch a crew of professional reside my cabin.  Such a happy image. . .


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Searching for Beauty

(For me, running - particularly long runs - are metaphors for life.  Since I am running longer this summer, you will have the "honor" of reading a lot of my long run ramblings. . .)

I have LOVED running at the lake.  I am unfamiliar with the area, and as I run longer, it is exciting to discover new roads and scenery.  Saturday morning, very early, I was running on a brand new (to me) road.  Before I turned onto it I debated whether to take this new path or to stick with a route I knew.  The route I knew was pretty flat.  This new road began with a hill, and I had no idea what came after that hill.  I decided to live adventurously.

I chugged up that hill with joyful anticipation.  I was about 3.5 miles into my run, and I was excited to see what was ahead.  I literally thought, "This is so fun!  I can not wait to see what is up ahead."

And then I saw.

This may look like an ordinary, gravel road in rural ND to you - but in that moment all I saw was miles and miles of rolling hills.  And I was not happy.  While I was in the mood for an adventure, I had a flatter adventure in mind.  I knew that when I returned to the cabin/camper I had hours and hours of work ahead of me.  Siding to install, meals to make.  The day ahead did not hold rest, this long run was only the beginning of a 14 hour day of hard physical labor.  I literally stopped at the crest of the hill and snapped this photo, trying to decide how to proceed.  Should I continue the adventure?  Or flee to safer, flatter territory?

Sheer stubbornness spurred me to continue on the road in front of me.

For about half a mile, I ran grumpily.  I complained to God about hills and hard and being tired - both on this run and in my life.  I griped about wanting some flat ground to run on, some smooth sailing, some easy.  

And do you know how He answered me?

He said, "Look up."

"Take your eyes off what is right in front of your feet and look around you."

"See the beauty that surrounds you."

"Even in this hard."

"Especially in this hard."

So I did.

And it changed everything.

I saw birds soaring high above.

Momma ducks swimming with their ducklings close behind.

A few deer.

An otter or muskrat (the jury is still out).

Miles and miles of green and growing wheat.

Brilliant skies.

Canola fields that were so lovely I stopped to take a picture.

In the end, it was an amazing run.  Surrounded by beauty and grace.  (Along with sore feet, heavy breathing, and a lot of sweat.  Noticing the beauty did not end the pain.  It just made it bearable, beautiful, and worth it.)

All because I took my eyes off myself and searched for the beauty that was all around me. 
I don't know where the road will lead this week - yours or mine.

I have hopes and dreams that I am waiting on.  I have responsibilities that are waiting on me.  I have no idea how the two will intersect.  I do know that when I lift my eyes up, there is beauty that can be found in every moment.  The key is to remember to search for it.

"I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.  Indeed, He who watches over Israel (me) will never slumber."  
Psalm 121:1

Thursday, June 29, 2017


We spent the last two weekend completing the framing of interior walls and beginning the electrical rough-in.  It is fun to see the rooms take shape.  It is even more fun to see Brenna and Chad work together.  Brenna Joy has a knack for putting things together.  She "gets" it intuitively.  Chad LOVED working with her, saying he preferres her help in framing over the help of some of his employees.

 Mataya is so good at keeping herself entertained at the cabin.  Sawdust kept her busy for hours!
Joshua is always looking for ways to help.  It is sometimes challenging to find a job that seems important to him, that he is capable of completing.  One thing he loves is hauling all the framing scraps to the firepit with the ATV.

When your daddy lets you mark and measure boards, you are trusted.
(He definitely does not let me do this!)

Brenna in the "kiddie loft."  
 Weekend number two of framing, Brenna was busy, which meant Chad was stuck with my help!  Since I am less talented, he had to work harder.  Basically, I swept a lot and held boards in place while he did all the rest.  
Oh,  and I also took pictures!  Ha!

 This is a pretty good shot of the loft.  Below the loft is the kitchen.  Above is a bathroom and two bedrooms.  And above that a bonus area we have named the kiddie loft.  It has very low head room, but will work great for sleeping or secret-telling.
Mataya was SO happy when we got the temporary railing done, and I finally allowed her into the loft.  Daddy even helped her climb into the kiddie loft.

The most exciting accomplishment in the last few weeks, though, is POWER!  Electricity means that for the first time in Dietrich camping history we do not need to run a generator to power the camper.  It also means we don't have to wake up in the night to fill that generator with gasoline.  Or listen to the generator night and day.  I have SOOOOO appreciated the generators.  They have provided comfort in the form of air conditioning, television and refrigeration for years - but I am not sorry to see them go!

This weekend, Chad, Brenna, Joshua, Mataya, and I will get to spend nearly five days at the lake. . . siding.  The trailer is loaded and bags are nearly packed!