Kohl Hard Facts

This adventure we call life in the Kohl Family

Reflecting on District Conference and Responsibility April 26, 2012

Filed under: Ministry Stuff,On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 2:51 pm

District Conference went very well!  It was a wonderfully refreshing time of connecting with God, catching up with old friends, and getting to know some new friends.

The worship leader and the speaker were challenging, pushing me to deepen my relationship with the Lord.

The business meetings were…well…necessary.  🙂  Kidding.  There was some good and important stuff presented. And I enjoyed seeing the process of how things get done in the CMA.  It reminded me again of a lot of the things I appreciate about this denomination and why C and I want to do ministry and life with them.

The women’s lunch was a great encouragement.  I enjoyed hearing Mary K’s heart and passion.  It refueled my heart and passion for going overseas.  It reminded me of why we’re doing all of this, what sometimes just feels like jumping through hoops.  There is a purpose for it all.  God is training and preparing us, building us up in this part of the journey and readying us for the next part of the journey.  I try not to say, “I can’t wait” for this or that because I think that is an attitude that cheapens/disregards the here and now.  But my heart does burn to be overseas, and I look forward to the day that God allows that dream to become reality.

So here’s one of the biggest lessons God taught me over the last few days.  It’s a lesson I’ve taught to my students and the kids I nannied for many times.  Because it’s a scenario that occurs often with kids….and, as I am coming to discover, with adults as well.

“He made me do it.”   “She did it first.” And one of my personal favorites, “She disobeyed more.”

If you spend much time around kids, I’m sure you’ve heard various versions of these.

My response is always along the same lines.  “Did I ask you about him?  You made a choice for yourself, and now you have to deal with the consequences.”

The crux of it is:  You are responsible for your own actions, your own reactions, your own choices.  Regardless of what others have done.  What I want these kids to learn is that they cannot determine anyone else’s decisions, but they have to learn to determine their own.

And suddenly it was like God was speaking these words directly back to me.  There were attitudes and choices I was making in my life, but then I was blaming them on other people.

“Erin, why are you feeling lonely?”  “Because, God, that person over there isn’t pursuing relationship with me.  And the other one over there, they obviously don’t care about me.  And those ones over there, they don’t need my friendship.”  “Erin, why are you feeling lonely?”  “Because, God, all of those other people are making me feel lonely.”  “God, I’m so lonely, why won’t you bring more friendships into my life?”

In some form or another, these were the conversations I’d been having with God over the last few months.

And finally he opened my eyes [or maybe I stopped stubbornly closing them] to see that I was doing exactly what I am always trying to teach kids not to do.  I wasn’t seeking out friendship with those other people.  I wasn’t calling, e-mailing, or Facebooking them to hang out or chat.  And yet, I was blaming them for it.


Time to let go of some pride, take responsibility for my actions, and ask forgiveness.

I am so unbelievably thankful that the Creator God chooses to have a relationship with me, teach me, grow me, love me.  He is so gently and lovingly firm.  “O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!  Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!”


District Conference April 23, 2012

Filed under: Ministry Stuff — kohlhardfacts @ 2:34 pm

I’m very excited about this week!  We are going to District Conference!

For a lot of you, that doesn’t really mean much.  But basically what it boils down to is all of the pastors and staff members and international worker candidates and international workers and other leaders in our district [the Midwest District, basically Illinois and Indiana] getting together to worship, pray, learn, grow, talk business, and elect leaders.

I’m excited for several reasons:

1.  It will be great to meet/get to know other people from the district, especially other international workers/candidates.  And also to reconnect with some people we already know and love.

2.  I’m looking forward to worshiping and growing with this group of people who have a heart for the Lord and seeing His Kingdom move.

3.  I went to District Conference before when it was at Hope and I was a teenager.  It will be a great experience to go now as an adult, as a part of the team.  Somehow it feels like one of those “I’m a real grown up now” kind of moments.

4.  It feels like another step along this process of candidacy and moving toward overseas.  A much needed and anticipated step forward.  Sometimes it feels like we’re not really doing anything to move forward in that part of the process, so I’m thankful for this step.  I know our internship with Mission21 is part of that process too, but sometimes it’s nice to get perspective on the bigger picture.

5.  I love my parents and enjoy every opportunity I get to spend time with them [and the girls get to spend time with them.]

There you have it – what I’m looking forward to for this week [the first half of it anyway] in a nut shell.

Would you pray for us and the others at the conference?  Pray that it would be unifying and uplifting, encouraging and restorative.  Pray for safety in all of the traveling.  Pray that the Kingdom of Light would push back the darkness.  Thanks for your prayers.


5 Minute Friday – Together April 20, 2012

Filed under: 5 Minute Friday,On Babies and Being a Mommy — kohlhardfacts @ 7:44 pm

I’ve been looking forward to this all week!  It’s time for 5 Minute Friday again and I’m linking it up with The Gypsy Mama!

I have to confess, I cheated and gave myself 10 minutes since I was typing one handed.

Today’s prompt is



As I sit tethered to the couch by the little hungry body laying across me, I remember to take in this moment; to use all of my senses.

To breathe in her delicious freshly-bathed-still-so-little smell;  to really look at the way the tiny hairs on her head stick out in all sorts of directions; to remember how it feels to have her cradled in my arms drinking in the nourishment that only I can give her; to listen to the little noises she makes as she gulps down the sweetest thing she’s ever tasted; to taste her tiny, chubby fingers on my lips.

She pauses and looks deeply into my eyes.  I look down and smile at my precious girl.  The smile that crosses her face is exquisite.  The joy that comes from a simple smile from Mama, it’s breathtaking.  Those precious, chubby fingers that were parked up against my lips now wander across my cheek, over to my ear, up to my eye, and finally back to my lips.

I wonder [for maybe the millionth time] what color her eyes will be.  Some days I could swear they’ll be brown, or maybe hazel like mine – brown in the middle with green all the way around the outside.  Or maybe they’ll turn bright blue like her sister’s, her Daddy’s.

She turns her head and gets back to business.

This moment is just for her and me.  Sister is sleeping, Daddy is at work.

Nothing else requires our time.

Nothing else vies for our attention.

We are alone in this beautiful, peaceful, restful moment.

Just Lilly and me.




The Bunk Beds Are [Almost] Finished!

Filed under: Projects — kohlhardfacts @ 3:08 am

Caleb finally finished constructing the bunk beds!

[Note the use of constructing there…They’re still not completedHopefully we will be painting them this coming Saturday.  But seeing as it took seven months to finish building them, this may be a lofty goal.  Also, they are a bit too tall and the bottom frame is larger than the mattress.  Minor details.]

Have I mentioned how amazing my hubby is?!  He made these bunk beds.  All by himself.  From a big pile of wood.  Yea, he’s pretty impressive!

See the pretty details on the support beams?

And the head and foot boards.

He also wants to wood burn the girls’ names into the posts.

Also, how stinking cute are my girls?!

I love having a handy man hubby.  He’s great at making things and fixing things, and just generally taking care of household issues.

I am also seriously thankful that my Dad [and now my husband] saw fit to make sure that I am also competent at taking care of minor household issues.  Things like plunging a toilet, flipping a breaker, hanging a picture, and changing a light bulb.  No joke, these are calls Caleb has gotten since working maintenance at an apartment complex.  One major thing I’ve learned from this is that we will definitely teach our girls basic fix it know how.  Things like what’s the difference between a flat head screw driver and a phillip’s head screw driver.  How to use an allen wrench.  The many uses of WD40 and duct tape.  And of course, how to paint the walls – including cutting in the edges.  Well, maybe Uncle Adam and Uncle Jeremy can teach them that.

What should I add to my list?  What are some things you think are important to teach your children?


Learning to Love the Dabbler April 15, 2012

Filed under: On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 4:47 pm

I’m kind of a dabbler.

I blame credit a lot of this to my parents, and some of it to just how I am.

As a kid, I was into a different sport for each season, I played piano, I sung in the children’s choir at church, we had church events and after school enrichment [One time I took Japanese for after school enrichment.  I remember how to say “hello” and how to count to 10.] and Sunday family dinners [By family, I mean extended family, not just the four of us.  It isn’t uncommon to have 15-20 of us on a Sunday afternoon.]  We also loved to travel.  Travel to the boat [in early years, the sailboat in Bloomington, in later years the speed boat down in Tennessee.], travel to see family in Florida, travel out west to go skiing, travel across the country by car, train, plane, whatever.

I am unbelievably thankful for all of these opportunities and experiences.  I had a wonderfully blessed childhood, and as an adult I have a wide array of interests because of it.


It also means that I’m not really good at anything.  I don’t have any specialties to speak of.  I’m ok at a lot of things.  I’m pretty good at starting things.  It’s the follow through I have a harder time with.

Which is how I feel this blog is.  A little of this, a little of that.  Some recipes, some DIY projects, some life experiences and lessons.  I feel like it’s kind of scattered.

Is that ok?

Is it allowed to be a conglomeration of the various things that make up my life?

Or do I need a specific purpose.  A cooking blog.  Or a home decor blog.  Or a sewing blog.  Or any number of specialties.  Because to be honest, I’m not good at any of these things.  And I’m not good at following through to become good at any of these things.

I like people.  I like taking pictures of people and arranging those pictures, be it in frames on my wall or scrapbooks.  I like cooking and baking, but only from time to time [as in, not every day…because who has time for that?!]  I like crafty projects, but I get frustrated with them pretty easily.  So if they’re not super easy, they don’t get finished.

Sometimes when I read other people’s blogs, I feel like mine is totally lame.  And unfocused.  And scattered.  But it’s also heartfelt and full of little bits of me.  So I try not to compare my blog to other people’s blogs.  Because I know…

Sometimes I just need a little extra reminding. I also feel that it’s very important at this stage of my life to keep pursuing the things I love.  They’re an important part of me, and I don’t want to lose that in the craziness of day-to-day life.

Hayley over at The Tiny Twig is doing a series on finding your passions.  She recommended taking a strength finders test, so I did.  It didn’t tell me things that I didn’t already know.  My strengths all have to do with people:  making people feel included, working with groups of people, communicating with people.  But none of that really translates into a specific hobby or bloggable activity.

So I’m learning to be ok with that.  I’m learning to love me for me….”Jack of all many trades, master of none.” [Although, someday I hope to be a Master of Intercultural Studies….a dream for another day.]  Not to give me permission to never try things, and especially not to give me permission to give up easily.  But to say, it’s ok for me to like the things I like, to work at the things I want to work at, to dabble in the things I dabble in.

I’m going to keep blogging about the things I’m dabbling at in life, because it plays to those strengths of mine in which I enjoy communicating with people and including people in my life.  And because I enjoy the writing.  And because I don’t want to just give up on another project.  I hope you enjoy my dabblings.  I hope you find encouragement and inspiration and a sense of belonging.


What about you?  What are the things you’re learning to like about yourself?  Do you know your strengths?


Good bye – 5 Minute Friday April 13, 2012

Filed under: 5 Minute Friday — kohlhardfacts @ 1:12 pm

I’m linking up with The Gypsy Mama today for “Five Minute Friday.”  My goal is to do this 5 minute writing prompt from now on.  Here’s hoping!

Today’s prompt:  Good-bye


It feels like I’ve said it so many times by now that it should get easier.

But it doesn’t.

As I look ahead to the future, I see those words written all over it.  When we are done in Fort Wayne.  When we go over seas.  Every time we come back to the States.  Next time we see the brother or the in-laws.

Every Mother/Daughter weekend.

We met an older couple at a soccer game in Nyack, and the wife said something that I will never forget.  She said, “If we don’t see you again down here, we’ll see you on the other side.”

It helps me remember that this one little phrase that I dread so much is only a temporary thing.  Some day, those words will be a distant memory, never to be uttered again.

But for now, every goodbye, every heart-wrenching farewell means that we have loved, laughed, cried, sung, prayed, and enjoyed life together.

Besides, without the goodbye, there would never be the welcome home.