2023 Goals

The past several years I have made it a practice to think ahead what goals I feel I am being lead to. Some years this practice has felt effortless; this year it has felt obstructive. I am very much looking forward to this year. GREATLY looking forward to it. But when it came time to sit and listen, I was met with silence. The planner in me is uncomfortable to sit in this silence. I want to know what is next and I want to plan how I can get to what is next.

But this year is different. I think this will be the year when the path is not going to be laid out as far as I have experienced in the past. I think this is going to be the year where I’ll be given a view just in front of me, but this year definitely has a mystery layer added to it.

So while I worked through the process of discerning my personal goals this year, I realized my goals will truly be a few months at a time. For the next three months my goals presented themselves to be goals that will personally prepare me physically and spiritually for the spring.

Outdoor Space

This is space has evolved a bit over the last 14 years of living in the schoolhouse. An unused chicken coop became our garden shed, plants were transplaneted, and flower beds were made which has provided us with great color in the warm months.

The next three months, I want to:

*clean out the north tree row

*go through stuff in the south tree row

*buy patio furniture (more on this project in later months)

Our home has been in constant evolution since the day we bought it in May of 2008. There really isn’t a surface that hasn’t been painted or replaced! But now that we have been in this place for for double digits, we are moving from the phase of renovation to contentment.

Especially when living with these three!

So for these next three or so months, I am going to focus on the following for the house:

*decluttering drawers in the kitchen, under the stair storage, and our utility room

I am not striving for a house that is perfect; I am striving for a home that feels “comfortable”. Being a stuff manager is not what I want in life right now. We have been working on this practice of discerning what is brought in to our house for a few years now. This is the year to really hone in on this practice.

And speaking of practices, practices I want to continue to work on are practices that allow me to keep my body healthy. I turned 37 in December which, leading up to my birthday, provided my life with quite a bit of anxiety. My dad died when he was 37. At the time, I was in grade school and at an age where a lot of life isn’t necessarily remembered. But this event has been with me not only in memory, but in my bones.

So, to help combat this anxiety, I decided I will focus on the healhy things I can do for my body. As a believer, you never know when you’re time will end, but that doesn’t mean I can’t purposely live an active life for me, for my family, for my friends, but most importantly, for my babies.

This year I want to have a health focus that includes:



*minimizing pop

*be aware of what I am putting into my body

The beginning of each new year is always a mystery. But this year feels like a year with a good mystery that will be unveiled with a sense of excitement. Just like with anything in life, it will be a continued journey of listening to God’s call for my life.

Happy New year!

JOY at Home

In the Spring of 2008, about a month before we were married, Adam showed me a sale bill advertising a house that would be going up for auction in a week or so. Prior to the sale, we attended an open house where we walked through the house, seeing the untapped potential of how this building could become the beginning setting for our story as a married couple. Mound School, as it was called when it was first built, had been a rental house for a few decades at this point. The repairs made, colors painted, and flooring installed all indicated this building was to be treated as a business, rather than a place where one could call a place of joy.

After we purchased the building for a STEAL, we quickly realized just how much work would be needed to make our purchase feel less of a building and more of a home.

Immediately made plans were made to replace the windows and have vinyl siding installed as soon as possible. Over the next years we would paint every surface, replace shower walls, install backsplashes, floors. It was a lot of work, but we were so proud of the work we were doing to slowly make the transition from buying a building to making a home.

But then we hit a wall. Thankfully not literally. Ten years into being homeowners and a family something was off. It was at this time Pintrest and DIY blogs were huge which meant there was inspiration everywhere. You want to update your kitchen in a weekend for less than $100? You got it! Want to learn how lumber scraps were used to totally update a garden? Well, here ya go! I would look around our house after we completed a project and something just felt…off. Something was missing.

But soon I found it wasn’t something that was missing.

It was someONE.

Even before we got married, we knew we wanted to wait until we added a member to the family we formed when we got married. We wanted to wait until after we had taught for a few years and had completed our Master’s. There was nothing in our health history that would have given us clues of the infertility journey that we began after our first miscarriage in the Spring of 2012. We would unfortunately experience a second miscarriage again in Spring 2013, thus prompting us to look into help. I entered into a dark, dark place where I didn’t recognize myself nor did I recognize the stress I was in while we tried and tried to figure out how we were to add to our family.

Finding joy in our home did not come easily for me. It became a place of constantly being reminded of what we did not have. I found I really wanted to get away from our house. But I really didn’t know if joy would ever come to us while we lived in this place.

But then it did find us.

The ever elusive joy found us in September of 2017.

Soon the laughter of babies filled our house and sweet, unsure footsteps of babies learning to walk on our hardwood floors captured the joy that had been missing for so long.

Over the last five years joy has been found in tag games in the yard, picking green beans, movie nights, and many a gathering of family events. This little piece of land has become a place we don’t want to leave.

And then in the last couple of weeks we learned an important detail.

The picture above shows a diary entry from Adam’s grandpa from 1949. Mound School was built in 1949 and would eventually become our home. The little bit of history we have learned over the years includes what the rooms of our house were used as, and we have even been able to host a few people who went to school in our house. But we have never talked to anyone who was involved in building our house.

Adam’s grandpa poured the foundation of our house. A member of our family literally poured the foundation of the place we have built our life. There’s a sermon in there, isn’t there?

So as we continue to build our life here in this space and place, I am once again humbled in being reminded that happiness will not always be present, but I am to continue to chase the joy even when it feels it has subsided.


Growing up, I was fortunate to attend camp every summer beginning when I was an incoming fourth grader until my high school years. Camp was a place where I knew homesickness would creep up on me in the evening hours, but would fade away when the morning light came. It became a safe place for me to explore God’s love for me. Turns out God’s love for me wasn’t all gloom and doom. Rather, a love that met me where I was as an anxious child fearful for when the next person would leave.

Over these formative years, I met the most incredible people. People who would later become college classmates, best friends, and even a brother-in-law, and later meeting my future husband at a staff meeting. I wouldn’t know the relationship and life we would share until a few years later.

We are not the only ones to have had a relationship start at camp, but I absolutely love that our story begins and continues in this special place. A place that showed me what life could and would look like if I followed what God wanted for me.

Four years after meeting Adam for the first time, he proposed off of the old diving board at the last “midnight” swim on the camping season. I was the head lifeguard that summer and he a director (along with our dear friend).

Nine years after this night we received the call our babies were finally on their way to us after years of discerning what God’s call was for our family.

And now, every summer we are able to spend a week at out beloved camp where we direct a week along with our friend Kevin for incoming 6th and 7th graders. Since the kids were born they have joined us for this week exploring the river, bugs, and camp food that Adam and I have come to know as our summer home. Even if our time is extremely limited in this sacred space.

For the past five summers I have taken for granted that I would remember certain things for my babies while they are out at camp. But this past summer I quickly realized these memories are jumbling together. These memories for me are too special to get lost in the mommy brain I have developed. And so, with this little space on the internet, I want to record these memories of a hot summer sun with some of the people I love the most.

My mom has joined us during this week since the kids were babies, but it was this is the year the kids found more freedom to independently explore camp which then in turn gave mom a lot more freedom as well. These two are social and love to be around people. Jake, though, for a limited amount of time. Gabbs on the other hand…whew! She bloomed when she was around her “friends”.They also found themselves serving in the kitchen for lunch one afternoon. It made Adam and I so proud! But, these two still found a lot of time to play with the “big” kids. As our car drove away from camp towards home, their arms donned friendship bracelets made for them by campers, two sweet voices asked when we were coming back.

Not soon enough. Not soon enough… 🙂

Giving Thanks for the Church

Growing up, it was just the three of us.

Mom, Todd, and Jill.

Our life, at times, was hard. Only being able to rely on one income of a hard working mom meant there wasn’t always a lot leftover. But our mom made sure we wanted for not. When we were kids we had the toys our hearts selfishly longed for. Later on in our adolescent lives we had the clothes, the shoes, the everything we thought we so desperately needed in those years. And it was all because my mom saw fit to making sure she provided. No matter what.

Fast forward to the lives my brother and I have created with our spouses, the reality that was my mom’s as a single parent hits different. The worry of will there be enough, the worry of how she was going to do it all and be the all to my brother and I. Thankfully my mom is a smart lady and knew the value of a village especially when it comes to the spiritual side of life. She made sure we were raised in the church with the community support a healthy church can provide for families. I can’t imagine if we didn’t have that community to guide us.

This past Thanksgiving with mom’s first holiday as a new retiree and she expressed to my brother and I she wanted to take the entire family to celebrate the holiday together. So we planned it together. What better place for our young families to spend time together than at a tree fort in eastern Kansas.

So for months our families began making plans to spend time in an off the grid tree fort with four bedroom and one bathroom. Our kids were pumped. We were pumped. But most of all, my mom was pumped.

The morning of when we were to leave, Adam and I were at church when we get a text from my mom in all caps: DO NOT LEAVE. THE TREE HOUSE GENERATOR IS NOT WORKING. Dang. We were all looking forward to going and now it looked like this family adventure was in peril. Within minutes Adam had found a place nearby in Cottonwood Falls and it was available. The number was called and within the hour of receiving mom’s text we knew where our kids’ sweet heads would be lying that night.

In an old church building in Cottonwood Falls.

Of course God would have His hand in bringing our families together even if it would be for a few days.

Our little family was able to spend two days of uninterrupted time together. The first night we drove down the road into Strong City for a nice meal together and made plans to explore Emporia the next day. We took the time to play, time to read, and time to just “be”.

It’s pretty crazy to think the hard work of one woman who fought against all odds to keep her family close is the reason a get away like this was possible.

There is a lot to give thanks.

Four Galore

What is it about birthdays? For some they loathe the day, but for others one day isn’t enough. For me I am the latter. I love birthdays. It doesn’t matter if it’s mine or a loved one’s birthday. I love birthdays. I love ’em. So imagine the joy I feel for when it’s my own children’s birthday!

This year we were able to celebrate the birthday of two little people I absolutely adore. Thankfully we were able to have a few members of our family over to celebrate four years of our twins.

Currently, Jake and Gabby have been very interested in all things Paw Patrol. Chase, Skye, Rubble…all characters that have been added to our already cute cast of characters. So that is who helped us celebrate!

It was an amazing evening. The kind of evening when your head hits the pillow, the smile is still on your face.

Happy birthday, sweet twins. We all love you so much!


Over the last 13 years of living in our house, we have been really fortunate to host a lot of family gatherings. A lot. And it makes my heart so happy. It is important for my mom’s side especially to have a large space. Both inside and outside of the house. Why is space so important? Well, on my mom’s side of the family there were 8 total kids. Eight. And then you add in spouses and kids and you have a whole lot of noise. And awesome, amazing noise.

So when we were looking into updating our kitchen, we wanted it to be a space where people feel comfortable coming in and being together. No matter the noise level. The kitchen has become a place where people come in the front door and stay because that’s where the food is being served. We just needed a better set up for when these crazy awesome people come. There was a lot of planning to make sure we maximized our space to the max.

We are so proud of what we were able to accomplish with the budget we set for ourselves.

Without further ado, this is what now welcomes you into the schoolhouse.

Our kitchen isn’t large, but we can fit a whole lot of life into this space. Every inch of our kitchen storage is utilized to store every day dishes, baking items, food, food storage, and party supplies.

We can’t wait until our family comes back over for a celebration!

Kitchen Dreams

It is the spring of 2008 and we are walking through the house that we would fortunately have the winning bid. Not only were we excited for starting our lives together, we were excited to start our lives in a house that we could truly put our stamp on.

Thirteen years later I realize just how naive this soon to be bride was with the schoolhouse that was dirt cheap. There was a reason we won the bid on that warm April afternoon; the other bidders saw we didn’t want to purchase to flip. Rather, we wanted this place so we could create our first home. Together.

Over the next decade we would eventually touch every inch of this house. New doors, paint in every room, a new master bedroom suite, and flooring throughout the entire house. We have learned a lot about how we can take care of a space and give it life, but we also learned how this space can give us life.

When we first walked through the door we were greeted by a very sad looking room where there were cabinets hanging on the wall, a shallow sink, and a nook that eluded it was intended for a refrigerator to be placed in the empty spot. It looked very dirty, but the 60 year old shallow cabinets were in good condition. Paint was going to be our friend mostly because it was all our newlywed budget could afford.

For 13 years we lived with white cabinets that I painted during our first summer in our new home. The countertop was also replaced with an inexpensive laminate countertop within the first month of home ownership. And I was ok with it all. Until I wasn’t. It was time for a grown up kitchen that reflected where we were in our lives. We were now a family of four attempting to make a slapped together kitchen work for our needs. We could feel the growing pains.

It took us a few months to really think what we wanted to include in our kitchen and then a year to save up for these much needed improvements. This was going to be a big investment and we wanted to make sure we got it right. That’s when Cabinet Joint entered in from stage right. Below are the renderings they created for us.

After seeing these images we were both very excited about what was to come for our space! An important piece to note is the cabinets we ordered were ready to assemble (RTA). After they were delivered and unloaded in our carport, we hauled them to the family room where we had a few hours worth of time where to assemble them. Thankfully during this process our kids were old enough to be helpful and understand when certain tasks were considered “mommy/daddy jobs”. Helping with gluing was great. Not so much when it came to nailing.

While we diligently assembled the cabinets, we had our narrow porthole of a window replaced with a much larger window. Knowing the location of the sink would move under the window, I wanted to be able to look out without needing to use a step stool to see our kids playing outside. I am so thankful for this new view of our yard. It has really proven itself to be a gorgeous view for a lot of reasons!

During the day it’s fun to see the kids climbing in and out of their playhouse and at night you can see the glow of our cafe lights on the old chicken shed. Who knew an investment in a window could provide one such a unique outlook on their life?

It took us about a week of evening building sessions to assemble all of our cabinets. We really did have quite the family assembly line going on! At this point in the project we were in full motion of school and didn’t have time to do all of the work ourselves. We are old enough now and have done enough ourselves to be ok to call a professional in to help. This time the professional we called is a good friend of Adam’s from his college years. For all locals reading, be sure to call Nickel Construction. Tells bad jokes and can find a stud real good!

With a bit of help from Adam, Kenton insulated our kitchen and hung the cabinets. The millwork that was done was truly icing on the cake. Elevating our humble country kitchen to a kitchen I only dreamed of for the last decade. Coming home from school that first day to the smell of new cabinets was more exciting than it should have been. For 13 years, the old cabinets carried such a musty smell that on a humid day gave off the odor of a musty hotel room. Now we have a kitchen that when it’s cleaned not only looks clean, but smells and feels clean.

In addition to carefully choosing a layout and cabinets that would offer the most storage in our quaint kitchen, we discovered we could build in an insert to hold my beloved Kitchen Aide mixer. This wedding gift given to us by our grandmas was lifted from the top of the pantry every time we wanted to use this renaissance kitchen tool. Doing this was fine for Adam to do because of his height, but for someone of my vertical impair-ness it was a task I could use when I began the journey of ninja warrior. As I slid it from this shelf over head, I prayed every time the appliance wouldn’t hit me in my mouth and then drop of my pathetically sensitive toes.

Overall, it took us a few more weeks to accomplish the tiling and countertop installation. We are so happy with the outcome! We feel we were able to accomplish everything we wanted for this little space.

But I didn’t show you any pictures of the completed kitchen, did I? This is a space that we have thoroughly enjoyed making meals for our family over the last 9 months. Tomorrow I’m going to share those pictures!

March 18

It was just yesterday we heard our governor shut down the idea of a traditional school setting.  I am not at all upset with Laura Kelly; I can’t imagine the process.

Since the announcement I was feeling all kinds of emotions. Some of them that were leading me down a dark hole.  It wasn’t until I had a conversation with Carmen I found hope in the situation teachers across Kansas will feel in the coming months.

In the next coming days I will meet with my colleagues to discuss how we are going to finish the school year with our kids.  We will make sure our year finishes as strong as it can.

I don’t know what that plan is, but I am ready to fight for my kids.

House Updates

When we first moved into the building we now call our home, we instantly took inventory of the projects we wanted to do. It was a long list and there wasn’t much money for them. Fast forward almost 12 years and we the majority of these projects done.

But I am still feeling a restlessness. And I’m trying to understand why.

My style has changed over the years, but also has my understanding that good decisions take time. Decisions need time to incubate and I don’t necessarily have the patience for it. This often makes me even more frustrated because I haven’t processed enough.

My challenge for myself is to think and research through the projects I want to do.

How do you exercise this process?

This past weekend the time change went into effect and it kicked my tooshie today. I felt sluggish and my brain was definitely not firing on all cylinders until mid morning. By the end of the day I was somewhat back to normal and was able to cross a few things off of my list. Whew!

This evening was fun. It was just plain fun. Tonight was a fundraiser for our local high school after prom. So that meant a night off from cooking and a trip to Freddy’s.

Eating out with the kids is quite the adventure at this stage. Tonight was no exception.

While we were in town, we went by the mattress store to look at mattresses for the kids.

You read that right. We are preparing our kids to transition from their crib.

In talking with others, I’ve realized we may be a little late to the game. But, in my defense, they haven’t had any interest in climbing out of their cribs. So it hasn’t hit me until recently this transition might be needed.

While we didn’t buy mattresses tonight, when we got home we finalized our Target order for kids’ sheets. I can’t wait to get them. They are so cute!