Hold on to Hope

The world we’ve entered into is eerily familiar. The pages of a history textbook are appearing to come to life right before our eyes. 

How did we get here? All around us we’re bombarded with responses that showcase science as the bottom line. Our nation is divided on any and every given subject. We know any statement made in opposition, such as this one, will bring ridicule and criticism. Some are willing to endure the heat and stay true to their hearts and beliefs. Some may even fight back. Some stand silent and watch. Some have not been able to watch, it’s too much, they are done and have left this world behind. Some shout the loudest to tell others what they are doing wrong and how ashamed they should be that they are not caring about their fellow man. Some have strong opinions. 

Our world is sick. But the sickness, is it really something that a test can fix? Is this the real world? Is this how individuals felt in the 1930's, just a mere 90 years ago? Were they asking these same questions as their rights and freedoms were stripped away one by one? 

Individual with the bull horn, can you hear yourself? Do you see you’re breaking your fellow man with your blanket statements? Your constant and incessant pleas for everyone to adhere to new rules and regulations are wearing on them, but not in the way you’re hoping. They will not break and follow the new rules and regulations. If they have’t by now it’s not going to happen. Instead they are becoming bitter and losing hope and joy. Your response, hope and joy lost are worth the casualty if it saves humanity from a mystery that has come upon us. But how do you know? The heart and soul are tender.

Dear tired friend, hold on to hope. Hold on to joy. Hold on to your beliefs. Hold on to whatever it is that makes your days worth living. Hold on to self worth. Hold on to knowing you can love others even if they don’t believe what you do. Hold on to knowing you can love others even if they decide they can’t love you. Hold on and pray that this too shall pass. 

Day 2

Sven is taking a break from writing today so that I can share what is heavy on my heart. Plus, he said he's too embarrassed after Alex put a headband on him. 

I'm starring out the office window (and yes, I should still be doing homework instead of writing) I'm looking at colorful fall trees and a world that looks beautiful and right. But to me toady it feels like it's not. I feel like I am living in a world where I am frowned upon for not wearing a mask, and where science is trying to overcome faith and personal beliefs. Where I am considered rude, wrong and selfish for not following suit with what the governor says. The rules make no sense to me, "You must wear a mask outside and you must not gather in groups of more than five people," but go right ahead and "Allow up to ten people to sit together in a restaurant without mask." 

I'm a rule follower by nature, it is in me to do as I am told. However, something deep down inside is saying this is wrong, follow your heart. Everything contradicts itself and it feels like our "leaders" are making random decisions. While I know some of you who read this will think I'm stupid for not believing the science, know that I'm ok with that. I'll tell you I've never been brilliant or extremely intelligent. I can talk to people, I get my work done, I feel deeply, and I love my people hard. I can also tell you that I am sensitive and hyper aware to how others feel. I'm a people person, a feeler, that's me. 

At this point in my life I do NOT care who anyone votes for in this election. In all honesty, I'm more concerned about taking the time to stop and help someone when I see they are in need. In college I voted for Obama, I also voted for Trump. If this makes you hate me on either side of the spectrum it says a lot more about you than it ever will about me. 

I'm sad to think that in just a few weeks the world will be refueled with political hate. I'm sad that I have to take a test just to be admitted back to work. I'm torn with all the "world stuff" right now. I'm thankful I know my story is already written, and it is seamless. Each and every stitch I make was and is apart of my story. I have to keep my faith here. 

Sven's Journal: Day 1

My mum is back home! Last Spring her and the tiny girls were all home every day and I loved it so much. This time it's just mum, but it seems like she has to trick the tiny people into thinking she's still going to work. She got dressed and put all of her stuff in the car, but she came home and got it all back out again. That's silly, she has to know they will figure out eventually that she's not actually going to work. Well, maybe not the little one, she's kind of clueless some times. 

She looks like she's handling this well. She's already vacuumed and cleaned the floor. She's so silly, doesn't she know I'm just going to get it dirty in about an hour? She already bought some stuff from that place called Amazon, how many pairs of joggers and running shorts does one mum need? I guess it's a lot because she got more today, she kept saying something about them only being $16 dollars and that's some sort of steal. Maybe that's what mum's do when they are stuck at home, I wish she would buy me a stuffed animal that won't loose it's head when I chew on it. She talked to all of the kids in her classes on the computer, she sounded so happy to be able to see them and talk to them all at once in the same place. I can tell she really cares about them. 

She's moving, she's grabbing the leash, what's going on here? Ah, we are going on a bike ride! 

Holy. Poop. You guys, I'm exhausted. Mum is trying to kill me. Before you worry yourself that we left the house, I advise you to recognize that I have a super good nose and mom took us on a trail where I didn't see or smell a single other person, not one, so chill. Don't ruin this for me, apparently I'm super out of shape. 

On our way home mum kept saying things like, "I could totally be a stay at home dog mom, do you think that's a thing, Sven?" I think she likes spending time with me, I could get used to this. 

Before and After, DIY

I've been waiting for a long time to post a very drastic #before and #after DIY. So excited to share our finished front porch with you. If you haven't read the story on how we found this lot you can find it here.

#before - April 27, 2018

Excavation started June 14, 2018.

This house really was a HUGE do it yourself project. Tim did so much of the work and I am forever grateful and will always be impressed at his attention to detail and work ethic.

It's really hard to believe that we lived with just dirt in the front for almost a year.

Rocking bench: Walmart
Rugs and yellow pillow: Hobby lobby
Red pillows: Walmart
Ferns: City Market
Plants: ACE, Brady's, and starts from the BEST neighbors
Welcome sign and light box: Brittany Olguin (THANK YOU, I love them)!
Fern: Left in my classroom by a previous teacher

#after - July 4, 2020
Just waiting on the grass to fill in a bit more. The front is finally DONE (for this year)!

Sweet Karoline turns 8!

Precious girl, here we are again. The night before your birthday and I am flooded with memories. 

I waited every single day while I was pregnant with you. Waited, waited, and waited some more. 

When I found out I was pregnant with you I thought I was going to have an ectopic pregnancy. We went to the emergency room after I had a week of terrible, fall to the floor, pains. I knew I was pregnant with you after a home pregnancy test. I was so afraid and so nervous that you weren’t ok. They couldn’t do anything and we had a follow up with my OB. 

I wanted you SO badly. There was nothing in the world I’d ever dreamed about so much outside of becoming a mom. 

At the appointment my OB misunderstood my fear that the “numbers weren’t doubling” like they were supposed to. She asked me, “Are you sure you want this baby?” 

My heart sank. I could not believe she had asked me that question. Yes, I wanted that baby, more than anything in the entire world I wanted that baby to grow, be healthy, and be mine. 

But you held on, my little peanut. Thank the Lord you held on. 

Yet, I almost lost you again. On the morning of your due date I knew I was in labor. We went to the hospital and we were about to be sent home to wait when I rolled on my right side and machines started to beep, the nurse came running in. 

We were no longer going home, instead we were going to have an emergency c-section to get you out. Your heart rate had dropped dangerously low. In no time flat you were here! Your dad proudly announced you were a girl!! I was counting your fingers and toes from where I was lying. I could see you right to my right side. You came out yelling, thankfully! 

Come to find out, my placenta had “expired.” No, you hadn’t run out of room in my belly like I thought, you were running out of everything else you needed. 

Oh my miracle baby, I am so thankful for Devine timing that made you mine. Thank you for choosing me to be your mama. 

You get the learning as I go mama side of me, but you’re incredible and we seem to be learning together these days. 

You are strong.
You are courageous.
You are incredible.
You are important.
You are everything I ever dreamed of.
You’re our little sweet pea and we love you more than words will ever be able to express. 

May you wake up to have a blessed 8th birthday, my princess girl. 

See You Soon

To my sweet students and all of their friends who made their way to my room,

Is it creepy if I say I can picture you all walking up to my room at the end of the hall to say goodbye? I can see some of my tall boys, slouching a bit in their towering height, ending their endearing goodbye with a, "Welp, see ya later." I can see some of my precious girls tugging at their shorts a bit before they get to me, because they know I'll try to do it for them, giving me a hug and ending with an, "I'll see you later, oh and on Instagram." There are my boys who walk a bit wide to keep their pants up, the ones who have their hat on because they know I never notice or think to tell them to take it off, the girls who came just when they needed things, and then came just for a "hi." The loud ones yelling at me from one-hundred yards away, greeting me with a giant hug.

Oh my precious kids, my heart is breaking hard for the memories we missed out on making.

You all know that I never ask you to memorize anything. In large part because I know that there will always be a "Hey Siri" or internet browser not too far away from your life from here on out. You also know I believe it's far more important for me to teach you where to find the answers you need. I know you put that to the test these last few weeks. I hope I prepared you to find what you needed and that you asked questions when you had them.

Another lesson I plan to leave you with, one that I will incorporate IN my classroom again (soon) is this...

Kiddos, peanuts, sweet students, guys, gals, sunshines, darlings, gentlemen, ladies, stinkers, and all of the other nicknames I've given you,

We choose how we react.

We decide if we will flourish.

We get to make the most of our situations.

We battle.

We learn to grow where the wind blows us.

You all have made it through something incredibly hard, crazy, and downright insane. You should be so dang proud of yourselves. Know that I am so proud of EACH and every one of you.

We don't know what the future holds and that's ok. Alright, I have one more lesson students, we have to stay in the moment, ok? Let tomorrow worry about itself.

Right now I ask this of each and every one of you, have a blessed summer full of safe, fun, creative, and sunny days. Don't look back and don't look too far ahead either. Just be. Just be your sweet and INCREDIBLE selves this summer.
I pray that soon I will see you all making your way back down that long hall way, a little tanner, a little taller, with beautiful youth in your eyes, and smiles on your faces coming to say, "Guess what, Mrs. Reed?!" so very, very soon.

I love you, all of you (even those of you who are little stinkers, some of you are actually my favorite ... and you all know I call you all my favorites, because you are).

Be safe!

Have fun!

Live in the moment!

I'll see you soon,
Mrs. Reed

P.S. Seniors, I am so incredibly proud of you and how you have handled all of this. You all have a jump start in the world and in overcoming any and all obstacles. You are a force to be reckoned with, Class of 2020! Be sure to come see me when you're in town!

Joyful Alexandra

Happy birthday, my joyful girl. It’s so hard for me to believe that you are six. Your dad was really helpful, and pointed out that you now need two hands to count your age. Not helpful.  
You are smart.

You are silly.

You are courageous.

You are beautiful.

You are unique. 

You are snuggly. 

You are stylish. 

You are bold.

You are brave.

You are precious. 

I love you, my princess girl. I pray you have a beautiful day and that you feel celebrated. For you, my baby, are one to celebrate! 

The Reason for Red

When we bought our house in Westminster we felt it was a gift. The buyers before us backed out. We were asked if we would resubmit our offer without the owners re-listing. And so, we bought our house. We loved our first home. We painted the door red because thought it felt right.

In the midst of what is going on in our world today I've been extremely thankful that we are back in a home of our own (the house my husband built) We acknowledge that we were technically homeless for two years.

I've always been a germaphobe. Tim does not have a spleen and can't always even fight the common cold. Ya'll, my A-Type, over the top, clean freak of a self is going crazy with the really nasty germs floating around in 2020. 

I've had some pretty significant high and low days in the last three and a half weeks (we went on self induced quarantine the day we went on spring break, March 12th). I'm finding this isn't uncommon. Most of the people I talk to admit to some ups and downs.

When we lived in Westminster I got to start a bible study with four of the most incredible women I've ever know. We also just so happened to live on the same block! We moved before we could finish the study, but the seed was planted. I asked my aunt to read it with me. She's such a genuine friend that she didn't even hesitate and jumped right in with me. She held me accountable and we would talk daily about what we were reading. It was incredible and changed my life.

The name of the bible study is, Seamless. The way this study presents the bible makes so much sense to me and allows me to really feel comfortable reading it. When this quarantine is all said and done, I will be getting the word "Seamless" tattooed on my wrist. I've wanted it for a while now and not being able to get it has really sealed the deal on knowing that I'm ready!

In the study I learned that bible is all woven together, every aspect of it. Not only the bible, but my story is as well. In my life there are often times where I look back and I can see all of the beautiful and intricate pieces and how they were put together so perfectly. I often refer to these realizations as a silverzlining or a gold thread. My story is known from beginning to end, it is seamless, and God is the author.

Today I needed to be reminded of this. The last few days fear has ruled my life. Today I watched our Flatirons Church service and the hope and incredible light that is coming from the darkness of these days is beautiful. 

While cleaning the floors (something that helps me not be anxious) I listened to one of my very favorite people preach. Dr. Scott Middleton and his family showed me the love of Jesus when I was in middle school and I am extremely grateful. His message today was powerful. It was a reminder of how much God loves his people, how He shows up time and time again when all seems lost and impossible. While listening I had an epiphany. I remembered that the Seamless bible study talked about the symbolism of the color red. Be it a red cord, red blood above a door, and ultimately the blood shed by Jesus.

I had bought red paint for our door last summer. I had wavered and thought about painting the door a dark navy blue. Today, while listening to Dr. Middleton's sermon I knew that from this day forward our front door will always be red. 

Our red door is a symbol to remember God provides for his people. He cares about His people and ultimately He is in control. He does not promise His people that they won't endure hard times. He does promise us that He will always be present.

In an outward sign of faith I washed this door and painted it red. I recognize that my fear and anxiety in the last few weeks has not been me leading by example. I am pretty ashamed in admitting this. If I am a believer in Christ I better have the actions to back it up.

I can still do the best I can to protect my family. However, it will be because I feel in my heart this is what is right for us. It will not be a reaction to fear. I will find hope, grace, and light in the darkness, always. I will be thankful.

I pray every person who sees this door or walks through it is reminded of the our God who has shown us time and time again that we are loved.
If you're still reading this and have questions or comments, please ask! I don't always have the right answer, but I'm pretty good at finding what I don't know. Also, please consider this a formal invitation to join us for Easter. This coming Sunday, April 12, 2020, I want to be watching church "with" you! At 9 or 11, jump on YouTube and search "Flatirons Community Church." Or you can watch on their facebook page.
Further more, I pray that every person who may read this may have even a mustard seed size faith in knowing that good can come from bad because God's light will shine in the darkness. Always.

A New {For a Litle While} Normal

A week ago I left school quite upset about an altercation in my classroom. Little did I know that the week ahead would be so insane in the world.

In this week there has been a lot of change. The biggest notable change, at least in our house is that the girls are now homeschooling. In addition, I will be teaching my students in an online communication only fashion.
For whatever reason, the last few days have felt SO long. 

The strange thing is we normally would be on spring break and this down time wouldn't be a thing. However, I'm comparing this time to when you know an epidural is coming. When I found out the pain was going to stop, after 20 hours into labor with Alex, Tim said I was notably calmer. This happened before the medicine even came. I knew it was coming and that was enough to calm me down. So, normally we know this downtime will end. Now we know if we go back to school at all this year, it won't be until the end of April. Suddenly all of this time feels ominous.

To be totally honest, I've had some MAJOR ups and downs with keeping my faith over fear in the last few weeks. Then I helped with the Blossom Pageant and felt the fear in the sweet girls as they found out their pageant would be a bit modified this year.

I knew that I could either be a helper for God or I could sit in fear. With the help of some incredible friends, my husband and scripture I have been able to pull myself out a wallowing pit of fear a time or two.

Don't get me wrong though, the ups and downs are happening. I am having to work hard to not be anxious. In these times I try to check in with another friend to see how she is doing at this time. Doing so is two part, I get to check in on a friend, and I also get a reality check that everything is going to be ok.

Things that have helped tremendously in this time: forcing myself to workout again (after a five day break) and following in a friends footsteps to just go ahead and jump into homeschooling a few days early.

Below is a schedule based off another that I saw online earlier in the week.
I really am so excited for this time. There are SO many resources available that I am excited to take advantage of. 
YouTube: drawing lessons, early Spanish, kid yoga, science lessons, story telling...
ABC Mouse (we've had to adjust to using it in the evening when the server isn't so crowded).
Prodigy (for math)
Playing card games, board games, making up our own games...

My favorite addition to our day is our Bible time! We are using our stories for our writing prompts.
Alex was to write the verse and then draw a picture. Karoline did the same, but also was to explain what the verse meant in her own words.
A fun resource for ALL: Our church is offering "Live at Lunch," Monday - Friday! Worship, lessons and fun all from your computer! 
For creative time we made gluten free, vegan strawberry and walnut muffins.
We've taken lots of walks outside!
Go Noodle is a great app for "brain/movement" breaks.
We've gone hiking twice already this week! Social distancing isn't terrible.

Homeschooling the girls is something that I have no fear of for this time. 
However, as a teacher for my students, I'm a bit nervous. How do I come up with creative and engaging lessons online? How do I incentivize students to want to do work when they are home? 
I'm working on this and I hope that I can conquer this mountain and do it well for my students.

Random thoughts: 

I want to finally get my tattoo when this is over, I can't do it now because I Google far more than a sane person should and Google told me that getting a tattoo can lower your immune system.

I'm extremely grateful that we figured out Karoline's respiratory distress.

My husband not having a spleen has always made me an A-type germaphobe. I'm running on turbo mode with sanitizing in this season.

I'm thankful for our home. However, if we loose it in all of this, because jobs dissolve and things stop working like they used to, I'm ok with it. I do not need a home, I do not need material things. If we loose everything, but I have my faith and I have my family, I will be just fine. We can live in a fifth wheel, or an apartment or with family. We will be ok. Things don't matter, things aren't important. The people I'm spending my days with, they are important.

I also realized that no one is going to let my children starve. Ridiculous, I know. Restaurants are open, grocery stores are open and even if they weren't we are in a world where 99.99% of people are REALLY good. People help each other.

I'm praying people learn how to be less wasteful in this time. To be thankful for what we have and to make the most of all of it. Reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim...

I'm praying that in this time families foster relationships and have time to rest.

I'm praying for all who are still working. Praying for their hearts to not be anxious. Praying for their feet to not be tired.

I'm thankful we live in a rural area.

I'm thankful for the spaces our girls have to play in our home.

I'm thankful we are still able to go outside and enjoy the earth that God gave us.

I'm thankful for my girls. 

I'm thankful for my husband.