Kohl Hard Facts

This adventure we call life in the Kohl Family

A Moment Between November 8, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement,Uncategorized — kohlhardfacts @ 1:49 pm

The house is quiet….

Everyone is sleeping [except me.]

And I’m sitting here reveling in the knowledge that those I love most in this world are safe and loved and warm in their beds, peacefully dreaming.

There are boxes and tubs and baskets scattered around the living room.  And the dining room.  And the kitchen too.  They remind me of the chaos of our lives in this season.

The chaos of moving.  The chaos of the unknown.  The chaos of transition.

But even in the midst of the chaos, God has been faithful to give good gifts.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt like writing.  Since I’ve felt like I even had something to write.

But today, right now, in this peaceful quiet moment amidst the chaos, God has spoken peace and life and words into my soul.

I glory in the blessing of it.  In the strange tension between chaos and peace in this tenuous moment.

Soon they will all wake.  Soon life’s pace will quicken and projects will need doing and children will need tending and the chaos will over take the peacefulness of this moment.  This moment, though, the peace, the quiet, the love, the blessing….it will remain in my heart throughout the day.

That’s where I’m living right now.  Between the peace and the chaos.  And I know I’m blessed.

The chaos.                                                                                                           And the peace.

 

Giving up on Good: Hair May 31, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement,Giving Up On Good — kohlhardfacts @ 6:31 pm

The Tiny Twig and Naptime Diaries [two very awesome blogs that I highly recommend!] are pairing up for an awesome series called “Giving Up On Good.”  And today I’m linking up with them for my own Giving Up On Good post.

The idea is to be honest about the things we do – and the things we choose not to do.  So these wonderful women are inspiring other women [including me] to encourage one another in openness, honesty, and grace.  Because, let’s be honest, no one really does it all.

1 Thessalonians 4:18  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 3:13  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Allright, I’m in!

So here’s the good I’ve given up on:  perfect hair.

V is almost 2 and a half and still hasn’t had a hair cut.  Mostly because I just don’t care that much about how her hair looks.  I’m thankful that it’s long enough to put in pig tails or a ponytail, but that’s really all I ever do with it.  [Poor thing inherited my thin, fine hair, so it’s really hard to do much with it.]

I cut C’s hair myself.  We bought a $20 hair cutting kit at Walmart when we first got married.  I use the 2 setting for the sides and the 4 or 5 setting for the top. [The only tricky thing with his hair is that he has two very pronounced cowlicks.  If I’m in a hurry and don’t do those parts carefully, he ends up with a one-sided mullet looking thing on the back right side of his head – not attractive.] A few snips around the ears, and he’s good to go for at least 3 weeks.

And then there’s me.  My dear friend Renee is pretty good at encouraging forcing encouraging me to get my hair cut at least once a year [yea…I know, you’re supposed to do it like every 3 months.]  The last time I got it cut, I went to Great Clips because they were having a $4.99 grand opening sale.  I don’t get it colored.  I wash it with baking soda and vinegar [it’s called No ‘Poo]  More often than not I throw it up into a messy bun.

I know lots of people put time, effort, and money into how their hair looks – much grace to you!  If hair is your thing, I hope you feel the freedom to embrace that [and I hope you don’t judge me for my lack of hair care! 😉 ]  For me and my family, giving up on perfect hair means more time and money for other things and less stress in my life.

What “good” things do you and your family let go of?

 

Love the static hair!

 

Our Epic Adventure [Why I Haven’t Blogged in Almost 2 Weeks] May 30, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement,On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 8:44 pm

You know how often as believers we talk about how God’s answers to our prayers are always better than what we expect?  And you know how sometimes it feels like that’s not true – the answers we get don’t feel good.  Even though we know in our heads and in our hearts that the answers that feel hard are still good answers because they are from a Father who knows and loves us intimately and beyond measure, who knows what we need and when we need it.

I thought I was having one of those kind of answers last week…

It had been a rough few days.  First [Thursday morning] the fridge broke. So that was a several day adventure in transferring food to coolers and researching fridges, trying [and failing] to keep the floor from getting ruined, trying to find a truck to borrow [so that we didn’t have to pay the $79 delivery fee], and replacing all of the food that was ruined.  We looked at used and new fridges – we ended up going with a new one for a few reasons.  1. I was beyond frustrated with this used fridge because we had already had a few issues with it and 2. God came through in a HUGE way! We found out that we had been given some money by an awesome company called Ambassador Solutions – enough to cover the cost of the fridge!  So Saturday we went out and bought the new fridge and Sunday our dear friend Leo went with C to borrow a truck from some awesome friends from our church.

Meanwhile [Thursday afternoon]…

V broke out in some sort of a rash-looking thing — you know, the kind that could be million different things, and your mommy brain always jumps to the worst case scenario.  Well, by the end of the day I had calmed down and was fairly convinced that it was Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease [turns out we were right].  Just to be sure, though, I got an appointment at the doctor’s office [the one I had been avoiding because of my terrible experience with a doctor there — turns out that doctor “is no longer practicing with our establishment” — another HUGE praise since I’m no longer afraid to take the girls to the doctor!]  The appointment [Friday] went fairly smoothly and the doctor confirmed the Hand, Foot, and Mouth diagnosis.  She said that L would probably get it too, but not to worry too much about her.  And she said that I almost certainly wouldn’t get it because adults rarely do [clearly this woman is not familiar with my immune system — or lack thereof.]

Sure enough [Saturday], L broke out with the same rashy sores starting around her mouth and then on to her hands and feet.  As for me?  I got it in my throat.  Um, ouch!!

That night [Saturday] L was up late with a fever and throwing up.  At the time I assumed it was side effects of HFM….

So it’s Sunday evening and I’m exhausted!  And looking at the prospect of C heading to work in the morning, leaving the girls and I all feeling puny.

I decided to call in reinforcements.

My Mom.

The only problem was, she had a bunch of stuff to get done on Monday.  Then on Tuesday she had to take Grandad to a doc’s appointment [just routine stuff].  Then Wednesday they were leaving for the lake.  So basically she didn’t think she’d be able to come up and help.

I was disappointed.  And maybe definitely a little mad.

I don’t often ask people for help, and I felt like God was letting me down – leaving me out to dry.

Mom called back to say she could come Tuesday – Dad could take Grandad to the doctor.

I wasn’t sure I’d still need the help on Tuesday – surely by then we would all be feeling more energetic – but I appreciated that she was willing to come.

C decided to take a half day off on Monday to help me out in the morning.  I was able to get a little more rest, and we were able to make it work.  I could feel God’s peace and strength through it all, and I really felt like all in all we were doing pretty well [with a whole lot of His help.]

Until….

Monday night rolled around.  In the evening, C started feeling crummy, but we thought it was just something he ate [read, chicken that had been in the fridge that broke and was maybe slightly questionable, but he ate it anyway.]  Then he started throwing up.  You may be thinking “No big deal, people throw up all the time.”  This is the first time he has thrown up since I’ve known him!  That’s 5 years!  So this was a pretty big deal.  Then he got a fever.  Then around 1 a.m. I started in with the throwing up.  Have you ever tried feeding a hungry baby in between vomit sessions?  UGH!

So we were pretty darn miserable.  And then at 5 a.m. L decided she wanted to go ahead and be awake.  C and I barely had the strength to stand, let alone rock a fussy baby to sleep.

All night long all I could do was pray.  Pray for strength to deal with L.  Pray for just enough time to get through feeding her.  Pray that I wouldn’t throw up on the floor and then have to clean it up [seriously, being sick when you’re a mom is awful!]

At 5 a.m. [when L was refusing to sleep], I finally broke down and called my mom.  Now this is where God’s better answer to my prayers comes in.  Because if I’d had my way, Mom would have come up on Monday to help out.  And she would have been gone by Tuesday.  And I’m not exaggerating when I say we would NOT have made it through Tuesday without her!

Sometime Tuesday morning, I finally stopped throwing up [C stopped sometime in the middle of the night.  It gave me hope that this thing would end.]

When V got up around 8, though, she started in with the throwing up.  So while C and I were passed out in bed, Nana was diligently taking care of sicky V and needy L.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were recovery days.  Nana left Wednesday around noon.  C worked part or most of each of those days [his boss actually sent him home one day because he looked so bad..]  We were both just exhausted and weak. Another huge answer to prayer was that C’s boss worked it so that he “borrowed” sick time so that he’s still getting paid for a full week’s work.

Finally by Saturday we all felt back to normal.  Just in time for the long weekend, which we were very thankful we got to enjoy together as a family.  We went to the zoo on Saturday, then on Sunday we drove to my parents’ house [who were in Tennessee, by the way!] and swam in their pool.  On Monday we went to Conner Prairie and swam in the pool some more.  It was exactly what we needed after the miserable week we had.

God was so good to us throughout this whole process.  I felt His peaceful presence despite the craziness going on around me.  I am so thankful for all of the many ways that he provided for us in this time.

Riding the train at the zoo:

 

Wonderful May 7, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement — kohlhardfacts @ 4:13 am

V has a new catchphrase.  I honestly have no idea where it came from [or maybe who it came from], but I absolutely love it!

For the past four or five days she can be heard saying this over and over.  She says it to everyone:  the little sister, the Momma and the Daddy, the dog, various friends, whoever happens to be around.  It goes like this…

“Mommy, you’re wonderful!”

Melt. My. Heart!

Why don’t I do that?  Why don’t I walk around telling people how wonderful they are?

So here it is…

You, dear friend, you the one who is reading this right now – yes you!  You are WONDERFUL!

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 139.  [Seriously, check out that whole chapter.  Good stuff.]  Verse 14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful I know that full well.” [emphasis mine]

You are wonderful.  But don’t take my word for it.  Take the word of your Heavenly Father.  The One who knit you together.  The One who knows you better than you know yourself.  [Even those things you wish no one knew.]  The One who created you.  And He says that the things He creates are wonderful.  [See also Genesis 1]

So whatever you face today, whatever you’re going through, remember the words of a beautiful 2 year old, “You’re wonderful!”

And maybe pass the message along to someone else who needs to hear it.

 

Lesson Learned? March 28, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement — kohlhardfacts @ 7:47 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase a million times:  “Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”  There are plenty of Bible verses that warn against judging, that remind you to remove the plank from your own eye.  We know these things.  I know these things.  Theoretically.

Last night, we went to Chick-Fil-A to have a milkshake, feed Lilly, and let Vi play for a little while.  While we were sitting there, two men came in with a girl who looked about Viola’s age.  The younger man took the little girl into the play area, while the older man sat just outside at one of the tables.

The younger man [who I (correctly) assumed was Dad] had his phone out pretty much from the moment he sat down.  The older man [grandpa – I assumed and was confirmed], fairly promptly fell asleep at his table.

As I sat there feeding Lil and watching Vi and Caleb play, I have to admit I was judging them a little.  Thinking how typical it was and how sad it was that they were too busy to pay attention to the little girl.  Not that I thought they were bad guys, just uninvolved.

And then I went in to tell Vi and Caleb that it was time to go.

The guy sparked a conversation with me asking how old Lilly was and how far apart our girls are.  And then, face beaming, eyes red and puffy, hair disheveled, and a smile that took up his whole face he said, “My wife just had a baby today.  A boy.”

In that moment, I walked a mile in his shoes.  I understood the look on his face.  The constant phone calls and text messages made sense.  And I realized he wasn’t inattentive.  Exhausted.  Blissed out. Maybe a little scared of what’s to come.  Overflowing with love.  Who knows what he was feeling in those moments.  The point is, I shouldn’t have been making assumptions about him.  I had no idea what was going on in his life.

So, the next time I see someone and I’m tempted to make assumptions about who they are or what they’re doing, I pray that God will remind me of the man at Chick-Fil-A with the newborn baby boy.

See that look?  Right there, the one on Caleb’s face.  Yea, that’s the look this dad had.

 

A Great Delight March 16, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement,On Babies and Being a Mommy — kohlhardfacts @ 10:11 pm

I took the girls to the store by myself for the first time the other day [and it went surprisingly well!  We actually had fun if you can imagine.  It was definitely one of those gold star mom moments.  You know, the kind that makes you feel like “wow, I’m a good mom!  I can do this!”  These moments tend to be few and far between, so I cherish them when they happen.]

As we were leaving, I asked, “Viola, where should we go now?”  Her response?  “Chick-alay wi Daddy.”  Which of course made me one happy Momma seeing as Chick-Fil-A is my favorite fast food restaurant.  [We even had CFA breakfast minis for our wedding!]

So we loaded up, called Daddy, and met him at our favorite place.

As usual, the Princess ate all most of her food and then was ready to play!

C and I were still eating, so we tried something new: we sent her in all by herself to play.  At first she just wandered around in the play area chatting it up with the other kiddos her new best friends [her usual MO…don’t know where this little social butterfly gets it from!]

Then we watched as she ventured toward the climbing stairs.  We held our breaths as she stood there regarding her challenger, observing as the other kids ascended with ease.  I could see the glint in her eyes when she accepted the challenge.  She hoisted her leg up onto the step, reached across for leverage from the side and pulled, wiggled, and slid herself up onto the step.

Victory!

Caleb and I cheered and clapped and waived frantically.  It was the first time she had accomplished this task without any help from us, and we were so proud!

I’m sure we looked more than a little crazy, but who cares?!  That was our baby girl!

The whole ordeal lasted only about a minute but the moment was stuck in my mind.  As parents we really delight in our children and their accomplishments.  This got me thinking about one of my favorite Bible verses.

Zephaniah 3:17

“The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I can totally see God getting crazy excited over my accomplishments, your accomplishments, even ones that may seem minor to others.

I can imagine Him jumping up and shouting for joy because you did it!

Can’t you just picture Him making a dancing fool of Himself because He is so in love with you? [Is it blasphemous to call God a dancing fool?]

As much joy and delight as I take in my girls, God’s joy and delight over me, over you is infinitely greater!

Bask in that today.  Let His love quiet you.  Picture Him, the God of the Universe, dancing over you.  I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of love undeniably attractive and inviting.

A picture of Caleb and Viola’s first father/daughter dance:

 

Life Is Hard February 29, 2012

Filed under: Encouragement,On Babies and Being a Mommy — kohlhardfacts @ 8:21 pm

I just want you to know something.  What you are going through is hard.  Don’t let yourself believe the lie that it isn’t hard just because someone else’s life is [in your eyes] harder.  We all have struggles and burdens.  We have all come through different things that have refined us; made us who we are.  God has given you the strength to get through those, and He alone will give you the strength to get through this. But hear me when I say, what you are going through is hard.

So what do we do when it’s just plain hard?

I find at times like this, it’s best to be honest.

First, be honest with yourself.

Be honest with yourself about the fact that you can’t do it all.  And when you try to do it all and do it on your own, in your own strength everyone gets cheated.  You get cheated out of enjoying your life and your family and the things that make you happy.  Your family gets cheated out of you.  And God gets cheated out of working through you [which is really you getting cheated out of the opportunity for Him to work through you.]

My friend Hayley over at The Tiny Twig wrote a beautiful post on this subject…I can’t do it all, you can’t do it all.

Which leads me to my next point…

Be honest with other people.

The other day a friend [acquaintance really] came up to Caleb and me at church.  I expected the usual “Hey, how’s it going?  Oh, great!  Have a nice week!” conversation.  But instead, he was very honest about a struggle that he and his family were dealing with.  Then instead of just asking “How are you guys doing?” he got very specific [and personal.]  “Have you guys gone on a date recently?”  And when the answer was, in fact, “nope.”  He proceeded to offer to watch both girls for us so that we could have some time just the two of us!  Wow!!  His honesty about what he was struggling through gave us the freedom [and comfort] to be honest about what we’re going through.

It’s so easy to let others believe that we have it all together; life is all unicorns and rainbows as my friend Renee is fond of saying.  It’s not.  No one’s is.

So be honest with other people about the hard in your life.  It will give them space to be honest about the hard in their life.

Since I’m encouraging honesty:  This morning was one of those mornings that I wanted to give up and run away.

L was crying screaming, V was pulling DVDs out of the cabinet [that we were so sure she would never figure out how to open], and Bella was barking up a storm outside.  Usually, I would just yell at her, make her come inside.  But it rained last night, which means our back yard mud pit has standing water in it.

I was so frustrated and feeling pulled in so many directions that I wanted just wanted to be done.

[The Lord gave me the strength to get through those moments, and now I’m enjoying the peace and quiet of all three of them asleep.  ::happy sigh!::]

Third and most importantly, be honest with God.

Just because He knows what’s going on in your life, doesn’t mean that He doesn’t long to hear you spill your heart [and tears] to Him.  Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”  Did you catch that?  He wants to listen to you.  Not discipline you.  Not yell at you.  Not tell you what you’re doing wrong.  And definitely not ignore you.

God wants to listen to you.  And, as one of my favorite professors was fond of saying, God has big shoulders.  He can handle whatever you have to say to Him.

And if the hard thing you are going through right now [like me] happens to be dealing with an infant, check out what Lisa-Jo has to say in her post about encouraging new moms.  Or if you know a new mom, check it out for some tips on how to encourage her.  My favorites were:

6.  Tell her she’s a hero.

11. Share details of what you love about her baby.

17. Make sure she’s in 1 out of 1,000 pictures she’s taking.

21. Be honest about how hard motherhood can be.  [Partial inspiration for this post?  Yep!]

46. Anytime she is disappointed by her new figure remind her that she grew a human being – that’s a miracle and turns out miracles need room to grow.

62.  Admit motherhood is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.

69.  Tell her there is no such thing as “doing it all.” And especially no such thing as “doing it all perfectly.”