October 31st

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Happy Halloween!

I can tell I’m getting “older.” Each year Halloween drops farther and farther down my list of priorities.

The highlight of my day today was finding several swans in a recently harvested stubble field. Pathetic 😉

I suppose that’s attributed to the fact that we live in a rural area, so no trick-or-treaters came to our house, and with no kids of my own and no nieces or nephews, I’m just not connected to the trick-or-treating scene. I’m also not one for parties, so adult Halloween parties are out.

Not ashamed to say I spent the evening with the hubs and bun watching a movie 🙂

October 30th

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Not a technically proficient photo today, but it was meant to be that way.

One year ago today, I woke up to heartbreaking news. At age 25 our sweet friend, Katie, had passed away during the night.

Just a month and a half prior, we had celebrated her beautiful marriage to our good friend, Nick. We danced, ate, cried, and loved. It was one of the most beautiful, heartfelt weddings I’ve ever attended.

Three months prior, Paul and I answered the phone to Nick and Katie, exuberantly jubilant, as they told us about their engagement and that this was a personal “save the date” call.

Six months prior, Katie graduated with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Six months and a few days prior, Katie learned that her cancer had returned.

Today, I woke up to a day God created for me.

Today, I went to Sam’s Club with my mom. Today, I indulged in grabbing two complimentary Honey Buns to bring home because I know they’re Paul’s favorite.

Today, I told Paul that I loved him, and I heard him say it back.

Today, I bought Halloween candy optimistic that I’d be here to hand it out to trick-or-treaters.

Today, I scolded Burke for chewing buttons off of the remote

Today, I laughed with friends as we played a card game.

One year ago, I grabbed my phone and the first place I went was Katie’s Caringbridge to a simple, beautiful, and heart-renching announcement: “Katie moves on! Our beloved Katie passed on to heaven tonite shortly before midnight.” (I sit here with tears in my eyes as I read this again.)

I sat in bed in disbelief as the tears silently came. I didn’t even realize I was crying until Paul walked in. I looked at him and could only say “Katie.” He instantly understood.

The trip to church that morning was a hard one. I fought tears the whole time, but my heart rejoiced in the songs we sang. What a beautiful assurance of everlasting life we have in our Father.

A few days later, Paul was unusually quiet. When I approached him, he shared with me that the night Katie passed away, he had a dream about her. We were all together in the house Nick lived in in college, and Paul was drinking a glass of water. Katie approached him and asked if she could have a sip. Paul’s impulse reaction was to ask “Aren’t you sick?” He remembered being really  uncomfortable after saying that, thinking she’d take it the wrong way. But instead, she smiled full of understanding and softly replied “Not anymore.”

So today while I am full of sorrow on the anniversary of the humanly loss of a friend, I am full of Thanksgiving for all of the small, precious moments that make up my everyday life.

The Halloween candy, Honey Buns, card games, naughty bunnies, and fellowship. Thank you, Jesus, for this day!

October 28th

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

The snow stuck around overnight!

That just confirmed it for me – I’m not ready for snow and winter. It was fun to get a little snow just for something different, but I was disappointed when I woke up this morning and it was still there.

Oh well. All in good time.

So in that spirit, I did a little flat lay this afternoon to hang onto fall.  We grew those lovely little Daisy gourds in our patch this year, and these are our last two. They’re so festive and fun – they will be making a reappearance in the field next year for sure.

Paul and I have a beautiful little Burning Bush in front of our front porch that is always brilliant this time of year so the leaves came from that.

Trying to preserve as many of the little bits of the season via photographs as I can.

October 27th

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Well, this is a new one for us.

Snowy pumpkins. Three inches of snow today as a matter of fact. The wet, heavy, super sticky stuff.

Are you ready for winter? I don’t think I’m quite there yet. It was a cozy day at home with Paul – we were able to get a lot done and feel nestled in at home. I do love that feeling, but I love fall equally.

October 26th

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

The 6 o’clock sunsets are killing me.

My body’s not adjusting as quickly to the changing light as I wish it would. I’ve found myself getting to the evening without taking an image, and the light is nearly gone.

So tonight I grasped for the last bits of natural light on my antique camera collection.

This Brownie was my great-grandmothers, and is one of my personal favorites.

October 25th

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

You all know that I don’t do (human) portraits much.

This family is one of my favorite exceptions.

You’ve all seen them before – well, you’ve seen Dana and Brooklyn. Cody’s been a little MIA for the last couple of months, as he’s been in Salt Lake City completing new hire training for the same company Paul works for.

Yesterday, he passed his last assessment, and today he’s home and officially done!

Congratulations, Cody!

Paul happened to have the day off today, so we were all able to spend the day together. It’s the first time we’ve all lived in the same state since high school, and it feels so good!

October 24th

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

It’s harvest time!

The beans go first, and then the corn. Those are the two main crops in our area.

Our neighbor to the north was quick to harvest his corn – most he harvested last week when the temperatures were summer-like. He then came back through and round baled the stalks; a great way to clean up your field and supply extra food to your herd.

As we rent the fields around our house out to another neighbor, our house is surrounded by corn. We’re usually one of the last fields harvested, and while it’ll be sad to see it go, that also means we’ll be able to see a lot more wildlife.

October 22nd

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

You all had me in tears this evening.

After I shared yesterday’s post to Facebook today, I read through all the love and comments you all left and I’m not ashamed to say that I sat on the couch and indulged in a little cry. You all lifted me up so much,  and it’s so humbling to have so many people react so positively to what I wrote.

You are all so beautiful. Thank you.

Today was a quiet day for us. The Vikings game, a busy pumpkin patch, and wonderful sunshine. The perfect mix for a fall Sunday.

October 21st

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

I haven’t done many self portraits, but it felt right today.

I have a lot on my heart today, so this may be a long one. Hang in there with me.

I’m currently involved in three different bible studies and small groups, each with a different purpose and each with a very different group of people. Three different perspectives on approaching the Bible, three different messages each week.

The first is a couples without kids study. I’ve talked about this group in previous posts, and we’re going on one year of meeting (so crazy!). Our approach is obviously marriage-based; We explore what makes for a strong marriage, we share struggles, celebrate victories. This group has changed mine and Paul’s marriage – we’ve always been a strong couple, but this group has challenged us to really dig deep and know what it is to serve each other and communicate effectively. How do we talk to each other? What does this say about the value we place on our spouse? How do men communicate, and what do they need from us as wives (and vice-versa). What is our love language? You get the idea. We’ve all grown together, explored some tough topics, and become close through it.

The next two are a more recent addition.

A close friend and I are doing a study just the two of us, and we’re exploring women of the Bible and how their stories are relevant to our lives today. We have just started to dig into this, but the first story was about Eve and how giving into Satan and temptation changed her life. How does Satan continue to sneak into our hearts? What weaknesses do we personally possess that he uses to subtly work his way into our lives? Most recently was Rebekah, and how she was courageous and bold, but how she used her sharp brain for manipulative works. This chapter really challenged us to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses. Which sounds really easy, but to put yourself under the microscope and be honest with yourself was more challenging than I expected.

The third is a small group of myself and three other women, each at different stages on our lives and careers but with similar personality types and a similar struggle: Feeling hidden and underutilized in a society that craves being seen. So to explore this further, we are currently reading “Unseen” by Sara Hagerty. So many phrases struck home with me, and we’ve only been through chapter two. We’ve decided to journal alongside this book, and it’s been a way to explore my faith that I’ve never done.

“But who was God to me during those ordinary days, the days I didn’t need him to calm a storm or walk across water…who was He when I had nothing to give to Him?” (Chapter 1, Page 18)

“Something inside of me craved the God I’d find when I wasn’t changing the world.” (Chapter 1, Page 19)

“She caught me being insignificant […] and I suddenly felt the need to justify…” (Chapter 1, Page 24)

But most importantly: “He cared about the insecurities that plagued me.”

Oh, insecurities. Probably the toughest subject to openly discuss.

We all have them. We all struggle. No matter your age, gender, ethnicity, where you live, who your best friend is, what your job is. And with the introduction of social media, I’d like to take a leap and say that there’s become an even bigger microscope over what we obsess over. While we all love social media, it makes us just as miserable.

You post a picture, and it doesn’t get the attention you were hoping for. You see all of the engagements that happen over the holidays, and it reminds you that you are single. They bought a house, they have kids, they lost thirty pounds, they have the dream job, etc. etc.

Everyone else has the perfect life.

Why is that? Because Facebook, Instagram, Twitter is everyone’s highlight reel. People only share what they want you to see.

So I’m showing a little bit (LOT bit) of vulnerability today. My post today is here to break that cycle.

This is ME, folks. No makeup, in my pajamas, wet hair after a shower, red-nosed, puffy-faced because I’m still battling a stuffy nose and cold. I’m in my messy house (that we rent, we don’t own), in the $20 chair we bought at Goodwill because money’s been tight. My husband was home at 1am this morning from a trip, and had to roll back out of bed to be out of the house by 9 for another. This is me. This is real life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Self-love is important, and I’m still learning that. Life is different for everyone, and just because mine looks different than yours doesn’t mean either of us is doing it wrong.

Shout-out to YOU, friend. I love you for who you are. Let’s break this cycle together.

October 20th

Friday, October 20th, 2017

In this day, I took more steps than when Paul and I visited the state fair.

18,600 steps.

And it was a wonderful day.

I was scheduled to assist Shelley with another shoot for Ames Percherons at Crow Hassan today, so I met a friend for a walk beforehand so we could catch up on life and so I could scout for fall color (above). We hadn’t gotten together since before Paul and I took our trip to Utah, and since then she had traveled to Romania, so there was a lot to catch up on and it was lovely.

Then there was the shoot with Ames. “Magic” is the word I would use to sum it up. Shelley is a lights-smith, and because I’ve been along on so many shoots now it’s so fun to be along for a shoot and being able to see just how the image will turn out. I can see her vision, and it’s neat to watch as it happens and then see the actual image afterward.

The bonus to this shoot? They asked us if we could stay to help hold horses while they tore down. Uh, yes. A hundred times yes.

Shelley and I both held either side of the team as they unhitched and it was another piece of an awesome puzzle for me. I could reach straight out and touch the bottom side of their chest. They are giants. And amazingly beautiful and gentle.

IMG_2093.JPG

This is Marshal. While standing, he likes to make noise by slapping his lips together. While driving, he sticks his tongue out – the entire time. It’s comical! Look at those sweet eyes – he was loving the extra attention and love I was giving him. I also held Newt and Will, and watched them load them into the semi. How is it that they can give me so much joy? They are just purely incredible.