Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Fun

This month has a few names for us here in the great NorthWest - #snowmageddon2017, #snowpocalypse2017.  SO MUCH SNOW.  I won't post too many pictures of snow because I believe we have all seen enough snow.   I do want you to see what happens when my snow-loving Iowa-born golden doodle plays in the snow.  Only a warm bath would dissolve those ice balls in his fur.  Every single day, usually more than once!!

My Iowa sister visited the beginning of the month.  We blame her for bringing us that week of continuous snow.  Her flight home was delayed a day - I guess that was her punishment.  (But a good thing for me!!)  We couldn't get out and about too much because of the weather, but we still had fun.  We had a "girls night out" with some of my friends.  We ate lots of good food.  Sharon was able to spend some time with Mom and Dad, which is always a blessing!  Come back soon, Sharon, but do not bring us snow next time!!

Next to visit were my California nephews.  They have not been here for a couple years.  Mitch is a college senior at CalPoly and Sean has been out of college for two years - he is working in the real world.  Again, the weather didn't cooperate too much.  We did get in a hike with Rick and Pam - it was muddy but oh, so pretty!!  We had some quality family time with these two young men!
Cousin love

January was a blur to me - lots of work!  I was glad when it was over.  I was anxious to GET OUT OF TOWN and tried earlier in the month, but the messy pass over the mountain didn't allow it.  I finally headed over this past weekend.  There was much more snow on the ground over there (why didn't I go somewhere warm????)  but the people I hung out with made up for it!  I stayed with my niece Dani and her family - she has two little girls.  This family wakes up EARLY - the girls usually visited my room around 6:30. Dani would bring me a latte in bed - I was very thankful for that!  My younger brother Don and his family also live there, so I was able to spend time with them.  I went to a couple of 7th grade basketball games, had coffee with my sweet niece Gretta and my sister-in-law Sue, saw where my brother was laying tile in a very large new home, spent time shopping with Dani.  I had the privilege of watching little Miss Natalie get her white belt in karate.  I met a high school friend for dinner and I met up with my friend Kim (we cheered on the Tigers!!!) at the church that she and my brother's family attend.  Lots of fun with some special people!  I am ready to go back!
 

I truly am ready for warmer weather.  I feel myself disliking the dark days lately.  I need some sun to motivate me and encourage my bones!   I am about half way through my second year without Les.  The loneliness settled in this winter.  (It's not really very fun having a snow storm when your other half isn't around to sit by the fire with - I missed him!)  I've probably said this before - I stay very busy, but it is still lonely.  The grief has settled down, and maybe that's why I notice the loneliness more.  BUT I am still so very thankful for what I have, the people I get to "do" life with, and mostly for the peace in knowing that God is always with me.  Life does still bring me great joy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy New Year!



 My high school friend Terri sent this to me last week.  I really like it!  I feel like like it totally applies to me.  I had to laugh at the "go to bed early and wake up early" part - Terri likes to sleep in.  Back in the day, she would sleep until NOON.  Me being a farm girl - that was unheard of!!!  Last summer when I stayed with Terri I was curious if she still slept late - yep she does!  (not noon, but later than what I'm used to!  Love you Terri!!!)  I have found that this message is true - I have to get up and go out.  It would be easy to keep my butt on the couch!  AND I am trying to clean up some clutter.  My boys helped a Saturday in December and we got a good start in the garage.

The day after New Years Day I got off the couch and went snow shoeing.  It would have been easy to say no - it was cold and windy.  A group of us went up the mountain and the day was stunning.  When we left the trucks, it was 18 degrees.  As long as we kept moving we stayed warm.  The skies were SO BLUE.  A great day.

A lot of you ask how my holidays were, and I appreciate that!   Christmas has not been a super difficult time for me.  I think that since Les was a UPS driver, I was used to him not being around the whole month of December.  We didn't have lots of "traditions" for the season because he was working so much and we don't have extended family here.  I HAVE found that the week after Christmas is more difficult.  Everything slows down, it's winter, and it's a lot lonelier.

Now it's January, and my busiest work month.  That's a good thing - it keeps me very busy.  It also stresses me out a bit - my office is a disaster.  It's time to change all the files - out with the old, in with the new for 2017.  This weather we have had doesn't help the mood - I'm over the wind and the ice.  I miss walking my dog every day.

My son, my son-in-law and my niece recently went on a mission trip to Guatemala.  I was super excited for them.  Brett and Emily have gone before, Kris has not.  It's warm where they went and they were in a beautiful area.  They were doing some work at an orphanage.  I was cleaning some cupboards the other day (see - I am un-cluttering!!!) and I found a book with pictures from my first mission trip to Tijuana with our church youth group.  This was 20 or so years ago, and I went on several trips after that.  I loved being a part of the YWAM program and seeing God work in the kids' lives.  Those trips were an important part of my life.  I made several life long friends!!
So......Happy New Year.  Let's all get up and go out!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankful

I looked up "thankful" and "grateful" in the dictionary.  Thankful says "expression of gratitude".    Grateful says "thankful".  I always wondered what the difference was.  I guess there isn't any.

I have learned that being thankful is so often a choice.

I heard a sermon long ago (and was reminded of it last Wednesday night by my friend Roger) that we need to "compare down" instead of "comparing up".   We need to focus on how we are so blessed. Now here we go into the Christmas season - all those ads and commercials make me a little crazy!  I feel like I need to go BUY BUY BUY.  I don't like it!

A few things I am thankful for:

I am thankful for my neighbors.  They fertilize my lawn.  One of them cleans my computer and cleans my espresso machine.  They bring me yummy leftovers. (FYI Dan's turkey soup is the best I've ever had!!!)   One of them sometimes makes home vet visits.  If I fall from a ladder when I am cleaning the gutters, they will probably see me.  I can borrow a cup of sugar from them.  I have amazing neighbors.

I am thankful for my workout classes.  These workouts were my "therapy" when Les was sick.   I have met new friends there.  Since my cholesterol is border line bad, I am trying to stay healthy - so I keep going to classes!  Thank you Bethany and Christian (and others) for kicking my butt the past couple of years.

I'm thankful for my dog.  When you live alone, you talk to yourself a lot.  At least I can say I'm talking to Dutch!!  Ha!  And it's nice to have him greet me so excitedly when I come home!

I'm thankful for all the people I work with - my dairy farmer, my construction workers, my boat people and my church people.   I am glad they are all a part of my life.

I am thankful for all the fresh snow on the mountains.  What a glorious sight.

Yes, being thankful is often a choice.  Many times I could just curl up under my blankets.  Or not accept an invitation to do something.  But instead I am choosing to be thankful and to get out and about and to have some fun.  Life is short!  Let's all be thankful!

From my Jesus Calling this week:   When your mind is occupied with thanking Me, you have no time for worrying or complaining.  If you practice thankfulness consistently, negative thought patterns will gradually grow weaker and weaker.   The Bible verse:  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 - "Be JOYFUL always, pray continually, GIVE THANKS in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Tomorrow is Les' birthday.  The second time he will have a birthday in heaven.  I ran across this picture a few weeks ago:

I'm thankful he was such a good dad.  I'm thankful he was a part of my life for 35 years.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Life Lately

This weather.  Seriously.  I don't remember experiencing SO MUCH RAIN in October before.  And these early dark nights!!   Honestly, I've had some hard days lately and I wonder if the weather contributes to this??  Ha!

I went over the mountains for a long weekend the end of September.  I stayed with my niece Dani and her family this trip, which was really fun (well - maybe except for the 6:30 am wake ups from her girls, but their cuteness made up for that!)   I had a great lunch with some high school friends, and a really nice dinner with a high school friend.  It's been fun reuniting with some of these people!
Double the nieces!
I spent several days last month in sunny California with my sister and family.  I have been auntie-nannying her kiddos in October for many years now.  Becky and her husband go on a business trip so I zip down and watch the kids (and golden retriever Cooper) for them.  Their two boys are grown and gone so it's just Jenae these past several years.  She is now a junior so I only have one more year -- as long as she says to have auntie come, I come!  I adore all these nieces of mine and enjoy our time together!

It was close to 80 every day when I was in California and I for sure took advantage of it!  Jenae drives herself so "taking care of her" does not involve much "taking care of."   It gives auntie time to sit on the patio and read in the sun.
Since we never take a pic together.....my baby seester!
I recently attended our church's women's retreat.  We used to have these about 20 years ago!  Some young moms were the planning committee - it is so great to see these young women be involved AND they did a GREAT job!  The weather was dreary, but the retreat is up in the hills with beautiful scenery.  The food was amazing; we had a good speaker.  My friends Lori & Jami Jo led the worship, and this was my favorite part!  I loved hearing all those women raise their voices in praise to Jesus!!
Our rainy afternoon walk!
 Our sermon this past Sunday was on "The Dark Side of the Soul", based on Psalm 42:1-5.  Once again Pastor Kyle nailed it.  Couple things:  He said we will all go through dark times when we are desperate for God.  Of course God is always with us, but He does allow us to experience darkness.  This makes the good times with God that much sweeter!! - "the cloud is black before it breaks".  I have certainly experienced that! We need to lament; we need to remind ourselves of God's saving grace in those times. Pastor Kyle also talked about the importance of community when going through a dark period and I have said that before - I could not have made my journey without community.  Speaking of community, my "cleaning fairies" and I had a get together last evening.  We have a pretty special bond!

These longer evenings have been a little hard for me.  I miss my Tuesday "training walks".  I miss being able to be outside!!  I have tons of things to do in the house; I need to adjust my attitude and just get some of this yucky house cleaning stuff done (cleaning out cupboards and closets....)!   I've said this before, but when you lose your other half, it's a lonely journey.  I am so grateful for friends who have me over for dinner, who take me out for dinner with them, who ask me to get out and about with them.  I need that!!!  I'm also thankful for my parents - they are great about having me for dinner.  Mom and Dad are also very willing to take Dutch when I leave town - such a relief!   AND I could not do this without my kids.  They and their kiddos bring me great JOY.




Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Walk to Remember

Because I am writing this post, you know that I survived our big 21 mile hike this past weekend.  It was definitely a walk to remember!

Les and I loved to hike.  I appreciated this about him, because he walked all day every day for work in his brown uniform, yet he would agree to go on hikes with me on the weekend.  We were just talking about doing this hike in to Stehekin, and then he got sick.  After he died last year, it started running through my head that it would be a great thing to do on the anniversary of his death.  In April I kinda put the word out to some friends to see if anyone was interested.  I was so excited that 10 were able to join me!


Us girls left Saturday morning and spent that evening in Mazama. I love that little town.  Les and I stayed there a couple of times with our friends Steve and Sheri.  I am so thankful that they made us aware of this place!  Us girls enjoyed a beautiful evening!  We weren't too excited about the loud wedding music that went on until midnight, but what do ya do??

We were up and at 'em at 4:30 am - we needed to leave at 5:30 to be at the trail head at 6:00.  When my friend Kay walked into our room and said it was raining, we thought she was joking.  Well, she wasn't.  The closer we got to the trail head the harder it started raining.  Remember, it is o-dark-six-am, 39 degrees, and pouring down rain.  This was not in the forecast!!!!  Lonnie was our driver (she has an injury that prevented her from hiking but wanted to join us - and we NEEDED her as our driver!  SO thankful for her) and Lonnie needed to drive the suburban down to Chelan to be on the boat going UP to Stehekin - and that boat left at 8:30 am.  She had to just dump us off and leave us there........
seriously............
Off we went.  For 3 hours we had rain.  It was cold.  The trail was puddles.  About an hour in, I was thinking, we can't even turn back because we have no vehicle waiting for us.......  It was pretty miserable.  I am so thankful for friends who stayed very upbeat and encouraging at this time.  You know, we joke about the "kooistra travel curse"  but it is a real thing.  Remember this post?  And Kris and Hannah's honeymoon in a hurricane?  And we have several other stories.......  And here we were hiking in the cold rain.
Drowned rats - but on the right trail!!
Then we saw patches of blue.  The clouds turned to puffy white instead of dark grey.  We saw a rainbow.  The rest of the hike was absolutely beautiful.  God's creation is so amazing!  The last 5 or 8 miles were very dusty and HOT.  We got sunburned.  But we didn't complain about that!!!!
several streams to cross - this one was a little scary....
Lunch!


"Go rest high on that mountain.  Son, your work on earth is done.  Go to Heaven a shoutin', love for the Father, and the Son."
After 8.5 hours and 21 miles, we made it to the end of the trail.  What a great feeling!  I am still amazed there were no injuries.  We had bee stings, wet feet from slipping in the creeks, blisters, sore and shaky legs, slivers in the bum (remember, there are no bathrooms along the trail), but we all walked out!  We waited about 20 minutes for the big red bus that takes you the final 10 miles to the Stehekin lodge.  On the way to the lodge, we stopped at the famous bakery.  It was so great to be among other people!!  We had NO cell service this entire day, so we were a bit nervous to find out if Lonnie had made the boat up to Stehekin;  the red bus pulled to the front of the lodge, and there Lonnie sat up on the deck.  We all started yelling and waving at her - we were SO GLAD to see her!  And I think she was SO GLAD to see us!


End of the trail - so proud of us!

Rainbow Falls - on our bus ride
Stehekin is such a cool place.  We had met 20-30 hikers on our hike down in to Stehekin - these hikers were all going north.  They had been on this Pacific Crest Trail since Mexico or Southern California, since April or May and they were heading to either the Canadian border or Manning Park in Canada.  Their stories were all so amazing.    The lodge had maybe 50 or so of these hikers hanging around (mostly they camp in campgrounds or in the wild).  There's a post office in Stehekin, so some hikers were waiting for packages they had scheduled to arrive for them.  It was amazing to watch them open these mail packages with new food, new shoes, new clothes - and then repack their back packs.  Very interesting!  We heard that since the movie and book "Wild" came out a couple years ago, the traffic on the Pacific Crest Trail has increased dramatically!  Here we were thinking we were pretty cool, hiking 21 miles - and then we talk with these hikers........they weren't so impressed...........  Ha!
#kooistrastrongtostehekin

SO GLAD my girls joined us "old ladies"!!!!
We spent the night in Stehekin - yummy yummy food at the restaurant.  We were all looking forward to a cold beer on the deck when we arrived in the big red bus, and we bought the last 2 six packs!  No more beer coming in until Tuesday!  Such a different way of life.  We had two large rooms between the 11 of us, and of course they were both up two flights of stairs.  We could barely walk!  What was even funnier was the next morning as we TRIED to get out of bed!  The biggest complaint was sore calves.

This was a great experience with great friends and my three girls - daughter Leslie, daughter-in-law Hannah, and niece Emily.  They have all made this past year bearable, and I was thankful all these women agreed to join me on this hike.  Late that evening in Stehekin, someone suggested we all go down to the lake.  We did, and Lori pulled out some candles.  We lit our candles in memory of Les and some memories of him were shared.  Tears and laughter!  A very special night!

We took the foot ferry boat back to Chelan the next afternoon.  A glorious day - we all sat on the back deck in T-shirts.  That is one long lake!  In Chelan, most of the gang headed straight home - myself and a couple others spent one extra night in Chelan.  It was kinda nice to just kick back and relax in the sun one more day.  Our muscles were still pretty sore!

Who wants to join next year?????

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Final First

It has been a year of "firsts" for our family.  First holiday without Les, first birthdays - Les' and all the rest of us!, first Christmas, first New Years, first Valentine's, first wedding anniversary......you get the picture.  Some of these days were really difficult and some were fine.  I have learned that I never know what to expect!!

Dallas' recent first birthday was a pretty big "first".  She was born just two weeks before Les died, so those few weeks after her birth are full of memories......... Dallas is a dear, sweet little girl and she brings us great JOY.  Kris and Hannah hosted a fun birthday party; I realized on my way home from the party that these events are getting easier for me to do by myself.  I'm thankful for that progress!


Of course the final "first" will be the anniversary of Les' death, which is coming up this week on September 9.  There are 11 of us going on our big adventure this next weekend and I have been focusing on the hike more than that first anniversary.    I am so glad I have this hike to look forward to - and not dwelling on Les' anniversary.  I am SO excited (and a little nervous!!)  for this weekend and this hike.  Again, please keep us in your prayers on Sunday, the 11th!  Safety and no injuries!
Training hike to Church Mountain with Rick & Pam

Also coming up on September 17 is the local annual ALS walk.  We participated in this walk two years ago.  Les walked half of it (a little over a mile) and rode his scooter the second half.  We did not participate last year-- it was the same day as Les' memorial service.  If you are available, PLEASE join us!  You can either donate and be part of the "team" or you can just show up and walk. Click here to donate or join our team.


Because of the ice bucket challenges and these walks, the ALS association has raised SO much money and has made great progress in the research of ALS. There have been some exciting breakthroughs in this research.  I can only hope and pray that someday there will be a cure for this nasty disease.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer

It's been a busy summer.  And that is good!  I like to keep busy.  But just because I am busy doesn't mean that I don't still get lonely.  When you lose your other half, life is lonely.

I recently attended my 40th class reunion.  When we would say 40 years to each other, we would be like, how is this possible????  I haven't lived back in that town for about 35 years, so I don't always remember people, etc. too well.  I was surprised at how those memories came back at our reunion....it truly doesn't feel like this was 40 years ago!  The weekend was alot of fun and I am very glad I went.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with some of these Tiger friends.


I spent a few days in San Diego with my sister Becky and family.  Her daughter Jenae was in the Surf Cup soccer tournament.  Wow.  Who knew this was such a big deal???  A very fun weekend and I loved watching J play soccer.   The beaches weren't bad either..........
You guys, I have a new job.  I wasn't looking for any new work but knew I would want something additional in the near future - I will be losing one of my contractor jobs when he retires.  Our church was looking for a bookkeeper but I figured it would be too many hours.  My friend Kara (she is the HR for our church) asked me if I was applying.......she told me the hours would be about 6-8 a week.........I applied, interviewed and got the job.  I go in to the church office on Tuesdays and so far, I LOVE it.  A great place to be and great people to work with.  This was a total "God thing" and I was once again amazed at how He is in control of my life.

I have a prayer request for you.  On September 11 some friends, my girls and I are going on an adventure.  We are hiking 20 miles in to Stehekin on Lake Chelan.   Les and I were just starting to plan this hike when he got sick.  Last year after he died I thought, I want to do this hike on the anniversary of Les' passing away.   I mentioned it to some friends and I was very surprised at how many want to join me!  I am so thrilled that Leslie, Hannah and Emily are joining us.   My friend Bethany talked with us awhile back about "training" and how to prepare.  My friend Kara recently hiked this trail (she's done it several times - her and her husband Dan were the inspiration for Les and I to plan this hike) so she talked to us about what to expect -- she was our cheerleader for a night!!  I am so blessed to have all of these women in my life.

After a long training walk....
We like to visit Overflow Taps after our Homestead Striders walks
Training - a tough hike to Oyster Dome!!
BUT we would ask for prayers on this journey.  Please pray that we have no injuries, that we can all finish the hike, that the weather is good, and that we can honor our memories of Les.
Thank you!  I have so felt your prayers the past several years and I am so grateful for them.
the team (missing Hannah, Gina and Lonnie in the pic)
 No Kaden is not going and neither is the dog Zoe............