Kohl Hard Facts

This adventure we call life in the Kohl Family

The Dance June 21, 2012

Filed under: On Babies and Being a Mommy,On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 7:27 pm

It’s an art.

A dance, really.

This motherhood thing.

And some days I feel like I’m a beautiful ballerina.  Floating gracefully through each moment.  Knowing with precision how to execute each movement.

[Wash and hang dry the load of diapers.  Dress the kids {oh and myself} in the just-right-outfit.  Discipline them exactly right.  Better yet, not have to discipline them at all because they are so perfectly well trained.  Cook that perfect meal off of Pinterest.  You know, the stars-all-aligned kind of days.]

But most days?  Most days I feel like a stumbling, bumbling fool.  Trying my hardest to look like I know the dance.  Working to do the right move, only to realize that I’ve messed it up once again.  I stand there thinking about how the movement went wrong and what I should have done differently.  Meanwhile, the dance continues, and I realize I have to struggle to catch back up.

[Opps, I forgot the diapers in the wash overnight.  One has squash all over her “just-right-outfit” and the other has spaghetti sauce all over hers.  Oh and I’m still in my yoga pants.  Lose my cool and shout in frustration.  Give in to the crying because it’s just easier.  Warm up leftovers.  Better yet, “Honey, pick up a pizza on your way home.”  You know, the normal days.]

The thing is, I know the One who knows the dance.  He knows the music – the rhythms of my life – even better than I do.  And He longs to dance the dance with me.  He yearns for me to reach out my shaking hand, place it in His big, confident hand.  He wants nothing more than to pull me up onto His feet – like a little girl dancing with her Daddy – and teach me the steps.

Because the truth is whenever I do this dance alone – whether I’m gracefully gliding through or tripping over my two left feet – I’m messing it up.

And this dance?  This motherhood?  It’s far too important to allow that.  Because it’s not just about me.  It’s not just my life that’s on the line here.  When I dance this dance solo, when I don’t allow the Father to lead, my girls are the ones who suffer.  They’re the ones who miss out.  And if I want them to dance the dance of their lives on His feet, how will they know how if I don’t show them?  If they don’t see it in my every day dancing?

So I pray that God gives me the grace – the humbleness – to reach out my hand, step up on His feet, and let the dance take us where He wants it to go.

Dancing the “Hokey, Hokey” as V calls it.


How to Make Friends Like a Two Year Old June 20, 2012

Filed under: On Babies and Being a Mommy,On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 6:32 pm

I learn new things from my kids every day.

Seeing the world through their eyes has drastically changed my perspective on life.

One thing that Miss V has taught me is her perspective on friendship.

Every person she meets [or even just sees from a distance] is a potential friend in her eyes.

She doesn’t pay attention to their age, their gender, their race.  She doesn’t care if they have special needs or speak a different language than she does.  All of these social constraints that make me fearful of talking to a person for one reason or another – through her eyes I can see how silly they are.

V just goes on up to someone, grabs their hand, gives them a hug, and decides to be their friend.  Seriously, everywhere we go, she meets a new friend.  The other night we were at Culver’s and she made friends with a little boy who had special needs.  She just walked right on over to him and started talking about his Elmo doll.  At WIC last week, there was a little girl – maybe 8 or 9 – in our group walking down the hall, V just walked right up and held her hand.  We went to story time at the library yesterday.  V walked in, sat down next to another little girl, and put her arm around her.

It’s adorable to watch.  And more than that, it reminds me that people are people, and all people need to be loved.

It reminds me that I shouldn’t let my social constructs get in the way of loving people.

It makes me think that this is one of the reasons Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

So the next time you see someone who’s different than you, and you get that nervous feeling and think “It’d be easier to keep walking,” take a lesson in making friends from a two year old.  Let go of the things that hold you back and make a new friend.   You’ll be surprised at what you might learn.

Now if we can just teach her about respecting other people’s boundaries – turns out not everyone likes to be hugged by a complete stranger.  🙂


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.]


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:


Fighting the Moments May 8, 2012

Filed under: On Learning Life Lessons — kohlhardfacts @ 8:31 pm

My morning started out with a blown out diaper at 7 a.m. [I don’t do 7 a.m.] and a baby girl who didn’t want to go back to sleep [I don’t do 7 a.m.].

Next came a two year old sitting on my lap with a diaper so full that it leaked out all over my pants and shirt.

A dog with extremely muddy paws all over my just-washed kitchen floor.  And she won’t stop barking outside, but I can’t let her in because of the muddy paws that I can’t wipe off because of the sleeping little one in my arms [you know, the one who refused to sleep earlier this morning and now will only sleep in my arms.]

The two year old keeps seeing a fly…a fly… and flips out – I’m talking all out melt down complete with tears and screams and running for Momma.

And I’m fighting hard to see God in these moments.  To cling to His patience and love because I don’t have those things in me.

I’m fighting to see past these frustrating, draining moments.  To see past the present that drags me down.  To see into the bigger picture.  To see that how I respond in these moments affects me, affects my attitude, affects who I am becoming.  And more than that, it affects my girls, affects their attitudes, affects who they are becoming.  The way I respond to these menial moments will teach them so much more than the words I say to them when things are easy.

I want to be the kind of woman who responds to frustrating days with prayer and thanksgiving.  I want my daughters to be the kind of women who respond to frustrating days with prayers and thanksgiving.  It’s a lesson I’m learning with the help of Ann Voskamp and her book 1,000 Gifts.

And on the days I don’t, on the days I forget and let the frustration get the better of me, I want to remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.  Tomorrow is a brand new day with new challenges and frustrations and opportunities for prayers and thanksgiving.  And in that, all three of us learn the perfect, unending grace of our God.


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!”


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?