Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pastor Appreciation Month

Have you ever realized there is a national holiday or a national month for almost anything?

National Calzone Day - Why have I never celebrated this??
Nation Deviled Egg Day
Nation Men Make Dinner Day - Thankfully this is observed every day in my household. Shout out to my                                                        master chef husband!
National Save Your Photos Month - Anyone else have serious anxiety when transferring pictures                                                                   from your phone to the computer?

The list could go on. And trust me, there are some really strange ones out there.

Our family doesn't really celebrate any obscure national holidays, but last week, someone told me that October is Pastor Appreciation month.

I've never heard of such a thing! Which is funny because, in my family, my father, my grandma, my uncle, and my brother are all pastors.
So when a friend told me October was Pastor Appreciation Month, I laughed a little bit.

I know there are stereotypes of what a Pastor's life is like:
They are constantly reading or studying the bible. As in, the open Bible is the center of their desk at all times, and they spend all their time in coffee shops prepping the perfect sermon. Pastors don't have set hours so they must not be very busy and they probably just hang out during the week (in coffee shops) and then bring their A-game on Sunday mornings. Go to work once a week? Who wouldn't want that job?!

Except that isn't what it's like. At least not for the one I'm married to.

He wakes up at 6am.
Exercises to get his blood flowing and then takes a cold shower.
He meditates and writes in a journal to his wife because that's one way he can show her love in the midst of his work.
He then responds to emails. I'm not talking one or two...if his inbox was an actual mailbox, it would be bursting through the seams.
He leaves for the day at 9:00am for his first round of meetings for the day. It could be with a mentor or a fellow Pastor or it could be with a newly divorced woman who now finds herself a single mom. It could even be with a student who is struggling with drugs. The options are endless.
It's afternoon now, which means he is off to the High School. A student body that has experienced more loss in a single years time than most people experience in a lifetime. Those kids trust and look up to him and look forward to his presence because he is a glimpse of hope. He shows them death and tragedy don't have the final say.
He comes home, probably forgets to each lunch and brainstorms how he is going to improve the life of his community. He prepares, memorizes, and storyboards his sermon. And prepares sermons for months to come because sometimes, there aren't enough hours in the week.
And then he visits people. Hospitals, homes, rehab centers, prisons. It varies on a day to day basis.
He drives home, probably listens to a podcast that furthers his knowledge.
He gets home, puts his things away, wrestles with two little boys who have been asking for him all day and finally, it's dinner time!
He cooks a delicious meal because cooking is his escape.
Sometimes he doesn't get to eat the meal he so graciously cooked because most church business meetings happen in the evening. So he kisses his kids goodbye and tells them he will see them in the morning. Sometimes, they ask, "Why does Papa have so many meetings? Why doesn't he read me bedtime stories anymore?" But they always know how much they are loved by their adored Papa because even when he misses bedtime, he always makes time for them. It's about quality, not quantity, but he still feels the guilt and pressure of his presence not being enough.
His meeting lasts for a good portion of the evening and when the day is finally over, he is done.
He is emotionally, phsycally, intelectually exhuasted.

It puts a strain on relationships, and on his marriage.
But he manages to always make sure his wife knows she is loved and he always tells her how he wouldn't be able to do any of this without her.
Sometimes, a game of dutch blitz is played to wind down for the evening, or sometimes he has a few ends to tie up.

Wedding preparations, funeral planning.

Recently, over the course of one week, he participated in two funerals for two people under the age of twenty-five. Both killed in drunk driving accidents.
Imagine sitting with those families and struggling to find the words to say. And yet, he always seems to find the right words that offer comfort and peace.
He truly knows how to honor a life, no matter how they were taken from this world.

This goes without talking about the extreme loss our community has experienced this last year and how he has entered into that. A broken, shattered, grieving community. And he stands firm in the middle.

A pastor's life is not an easy one. It's taxing and exhausting in more ways than one.
I can't even count how many times he comes home and says, "I think I might need to find a different job."
However, he will only entertain the idea and never carry it out because right now, this is what he has been called to do.

All of this being said, the next time you have dinner with your pastor or his family, ask him how he really is. Ask his wife how she is. You might be surprised at their answers.
Because it isn't about having the Bible open on your desk at all times and it certainly isn't about coffee shop meetings.
It's about bringing the Kindom of God to this place in a real way and entering into the lives of people searching for something more.

It's Pastor Appreciation month.
Take a look at a pastor's world from their perspective. And their families perspective.
They deserve to be celebrated and loved and appreciated.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Farmhouse Project

When Tyler and I moved to Metamora four years ago, a barn sat in our backyard.

An old chicken coop that was probably built around eighty (plus) years ago.
Over time, the space was abandoned and so was everything in it.
You may be able to picture what the inside looked like after sitting untouched for so long, but let me give you a little insight...
There were old newspapers, some dated over one hundred years old, stacked, literally to the ceiling.
There was a dead, mummified cat laying on the ground. Seriously, I've never seen anything like it.
And dust...I've never seen so much dust in my life.

The church wanted to burn it down, and frankly, I wasn't opposed to the idea because what else would it be used for?

However, my ambitious husband had different plans.
He spent hours out there, clearing out the trash, dead animals, newspapers, and who knows what else. I never stepped foot in it because it was, seriously, that bad.
At first, he cleared out a tiny spot for us to sit.
Just enough space where we could open the door and watch the sunset over the farmland that surrounds us.


We spent most of our nights in our little cleared space. We talked about what the barn could be, what we wanted it to become, and dreamed of it becoming something more. 
Of course, Tyler was may more enthusiastic than I was.
I still saw an abandoned space that made me choke on dust when walking in the door, but he had a vision for the space.

Eventually, after a lot of work from mostly Tyler and some people from the community, the barn was finally cleared out and of course, we wanted to utilize this new open gathering space. 

What started out as just having a few friends over on a Friday night, turned into an official event we started calling Farmhouse Sabbath. 
At first, it consisted of 20+ people, gathering together.
It later evolved into food, drinks, and live music. 

More and more people from the community were attending every month and eventually, we started running out of space. 
So we renovated. 
And again, when I say, "we" I really mean Tyler and people from the community. 

                           

Seriously, such a mess and so much work. 
I can't even begin to tell you how many hours were put into making the picture above, turn into this...

                             

                                

And what turned into twenty people, hanging out, turned into an event that happens once a month and  brings in four hundred people.
We rest and we party. 

To give you a better idea of what Farmhouse Sabbath is about, this video explains it's value...   
  
                                          video

So where are we at now?
This event, this space, has become such a huge part of the community. 
It's a place of not only resting and partying, but its a space where vulnerable conversations happen. It's a place where people gather to dream about what this community could be. 

Which brings me to the point of this entire post. 
This spring, something huge is happening. 

This barn is about to become a space that has the potential to be the center of our community. 




This project is something we are passionate about. 
It's something our community needs. 
But, it can't happen without help.
Which goes along with the idea of this space being communal. This building isn't being built to benefit our family, or our church...it's being built for the Evergreen and surrounding areas. 
This place is going to thrive because of it, but it has to be a joint effort.

I'ts obvious that in order for this to happen, this project has to be financially supported. 
If you are in a position where you are able to give, please visit THIS ONLINE GIVING SITE 

This community is about to do big things. 
I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SAHM Life

I've been sitting with this thought in my head for almost a month now.
I literally think it every single day:

I get to do so many random things that I love doing.
I get to coach a pom pom team, I'm a cheerleading coach, I've started up a photography business, I get to stay at home with my boys?!

And not only that, I get to do so many other things that I find such value in...
Taking Landon to school and picking him up everyday.
I get to take Toren to story time every Wednesday.
I can have lunch dates with friends during the week.

This is a life that I could have only dreamed I would live.

I am happy.

Genuinely happy.

I might be a little exhausted. I get frustrated plenty. Somedays I feel burnt out.
But daily, I feel so lucky.

However, it has taken me four solid years to feel fulfilled.
Which may seem selfish, but I'm sure other stay at home moms can relate.
So hear me out.

This is life:
Baby wakes up in the middle of the night. Sometimes one time. Sometimes six times.
He wakes up for the day at 7:00am, but you are no where near ready to be awake after only a few hours of broken sleep.
Your toddler wakes up around 7:30 and immediately demands breakfast.
You feed them both. And you clean up for the first time that day, of about thirty seven times.
It's play time!
Except play time means screaming because the baby destroyed the toddlers castle he had been building. Or the toddler takes the dinosaur the baby had been chewing on for five minutes. This goes back and forth until a snack is needed.
And I say, "needed" because, children need forty seven snacks a day. Seriously! So many snacks! Why do they need so many snacks?! I could write an entire post of my frustration with how my children think they need snacks every thirty minutes...and I really mean thirty seconds.
Snacks over. Clean up. Again.
If you are feeling adventurous, you take them to the grocery store, or to the park. They usually do great, but getting in and out of the car takes an extra five minutes because, well, carseats. So many buckles. You're exhausted before you get to your destination just from buckling them up.
You get home, unload children, and its lunch time. More food.
Clean up!
Nap time!!! Praise the Lord for nap time. Y'all who's kids don't nap...how do you survive? I couldn't live your life.
But nap time means you are probably cleaning up again or taking care of other things that are essential for maintaining a household. (If we are being honest, nap time means a few minutes of uninterrupted Facebook scrolling or laying on the couch without being climbed on, licked, jumped on).
Have I mentioned being touched out? Seriously, somedays, I'm touched out by 9am.
Nap time is over.
Snack time! *insert eye roll*
Try to survive without loosing your mind until dinner.
Dinner means more clean up.
Play time. More crying because sharing is a difficult concept.
Bath time? Tsunami time? Its the same thing...
Story time. Bed time. My favorite time.

Every. Single. Day.

Now, I totally get there are so many moms who would kill for this.
But as a stay at home mom, there was a time where I would kill to have a job that got me out of the house every day.

Staying at home with young children can be hard. Its frustrating at times. And the biggest thing for me...it's lonely.
It's hard not having adult interaction for most of the day.

But just about the time I start feeling frustrated...and by frustrated I mean sometimes I feel like I'm absolutely going to loose my mind,  a little boy randomly tells me that he loves me. Or the littlest one randomly sings Happy Birthday to me, even though its not even my birthday. And I get pictures like this handed to me with the words, "I'm sorry if you are feeling frustrated, Mama. I drew you this picture to make you feel better. It's a picture of us at the fair walking to a Farris Wheel. Do you feel happy now?"


Even on the exhausting days, I have to remind myself how lucky I am that I don't have to miss a second of their little lives. 

Back to my original point, I get to raise my children along with doing so many things I love and sometimes, it takes an exhausting, frustrating day to remind me just how blessed I am.

It took me four years to finally feel like this. 
I was bitter so often. 

I'm here to tell you, if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, find value in yourself again.

You are more than just a mom.
You are so much more than that!
Let that person out who is fighting to find yourself again.
Do the things you love doing and do them for you. 
You owe it to yourself.
You owe it to your children and spouse. 
It's worth it! And so are you...

Monday, September 4, 2017

Becoming A Viking

It's Friday Night (and Saturday morning) football season which means the Kleebergers spend most of their time at Evergreen High School, or on school busses that take us to away games. And when you live in the middle-of-nowhere, you have to drive an hour or so to another middle-of-nowhere place for football games.

Anyways...

With Tyler coaching football and me being the cheer coach, Friday nights get a little tricky. Luckily, we have great friends, family, and our favorite babysitter, Sydney to step up and help out whenever they can. Shout out to those people - you are great.

Last Friday, I asked Landon if he was interested in going to an away game with me. Of course he agreed and I'm positive the only reason was because he knew he was going to get to ride the school bus. Thats a pretty big deal to a four year old!
Toren, had a great time staying at home with Sydney, watching The Grinch, and going to bed at his normal bedtime, which is 7:30. Now that I think about it, I'm a little bit jealous of his wild Friday night.

Landon couldn't wait to go. Not only was he riding the school bus, but he was getting to hang out with "his cheerleaders." Also, shout out to my girls for loving on my boys! Y'all are awesome with the two crazy children who often interrupt your practices.

As anticipated, he loved riding on the bus.



At least for the first ten minutes before he fell asleep on my lap.


I was left to reminisce on my high school years and the ridiculous amount of hours I spent riding a bus to away football games, track meets, band competitions, parades, spring trips, etc.
As I was sitting there, listening in on the chaos that is high school students, a few thoughts popped into my head.

1. I don't know if WCHS still does this, but we always road couch busses. Always. No matter where we were going. Why was I not more thankful for that?! Seriously. Its so much better than a school bus. Thanks, band boosters. Y'all were (and probably still are) awesome.

2. How did we ever survive without smart phones? What did we do that whole time?! I remember when I thought I was so cool because my parents bought me an iPod shuffle so I could listen to music on the way to wherever I was going.  So what did we do on those long rides? Oh yeah...actually engaged and interacted with each other and did ridiculous things like slide goldfish that we would win at fairs or parades, up and down the aisle.
I didn't even have texting on my phone until my senior year of high school.
These kids make me feel so old. And now I'm saying things like, "these kids."

3. My biggest realization was someday, Landon and Toren are going to be in high school.  If I could keep them four and two, I totally would. Ok, maybe I would let Toren turn three because lets be real, two year olds are ridiculous most of the time. But for real, the thought of them being in high school gives me a little hint of anxiety.

Luckily, before I got too lost in my thoughts of my two babies growing up, we arrived. 

It only took about three minutes into the first quarter before Landon totally lost interest in the game and became completely inthralled with his dinosaurs and some pinecones that he gathered on our walk to the bleachers. 


Its funny...I have people ask me all the time if our boys are going to play football when they are older. I guess they assume since their dad was a rock star quarterback in high school and in college and now a high school coach, that the boys will just follow in his footsteps. 
I highly doubt (although could be wrong) Landon will ever play football. He is the least aggressive, non competitive child I think I've ever met. 
Toren is so obsessed with music and drumming, I'm hoping that carries throughout his life and he doesn't even know there is a sport called football.
I guess my hope is that they both love dinosaurs and music way more than they ever love football. 
Their brains are too precious and I would need anxiety medication if I have to sit through football games with them actually on the field.

Back to the game...

The Vikings haven't won since the beginning of their 2015 season. 
Last year was rough. Really, really rough. 
This year is much different and there has been an obvious switch. Not only with the football team, but the overall vibe of the Viking community. 

video

Winning was a HUGE deal. They totally earned this win.

I guess as my boys grow up, if they have to grow up, I want them growing up a community like Evergreen. 
A community that comes together, which we have seen first hand - especially in loosing two influential people in the same year. 

I don't know how much school spirit I actually had when I was in high school, but I can say that I'm so proud of be a Viking and my heart swells with love for this place.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It been a minute...

Seriously, its been a long time since I have even visited my blog page. There isn't one specific reason I stopped blogging, but I can think of a few.

1. Life happens and it can be crazy and messy and busy and all of the above at the exact same time.

2. When Toren was just learning to pull himself and cruse around furniture, he knocked my computer off the table which left me without a computer for quite some time.
He has also shattered THREE iPhone screens in the last two years. Don't let him touch your stuff.

3. In the past, I've felt like my posts had to have some sort of "moral of the story" and I've recently come to the realization - that isn't realistic. There isn't always a conclusion and its ok to not always have a resolution.

4. Does what I say or think actually matter? In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn't, but thats ok too! Nobody is forcing you against your will to read.

Ive decided to start blogging again for my sake. I think a space where I can be real and vulnerable, is important for my emotional health...even if vulnerability is terrifying for an introvert like myself.
I probably don't have a ton of helpful insight, but I'll at least post cute pictures of my children every once in awhile and everyone can benefit from that! Right?

My goal is to have a new post once a week. If I'm feeling real good, maybe more than once, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself. I'm all about realistic goals and expectations.

I know I've change a lot in the last year and a half.
I've changed, my marriage has changed, my outlook on life and what I think it means to be a human has definitely changed and I want to have a place to sort thoughts and maybe encourage someone along the way.

So, if you want to join me on this journey, read, share, comment, engage! I would love to interact with y'all more.
And if you haven't already, check out my Meet The Blogger page! There is a little bit of an update on me and our family there. And of course, cute pictures of Landon and Toren.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dear Six Month Old

Dear Toren Asher,

There was a point in time, during my pregnancy with you, that I really didn't know what your future held. 

Was I going to be able to keep you safe, inside my womb long enough for you to be born healthy and fully capable of surviving on the outside? 

When we found out there was a placenta abruption, I didn't allow myself to feel any sort of excitement for your arrival. It's not that I didn't want to be excited to see your sweet face and to hold you and to watch Landon with you for the first time, but I couldn't be certain that any of those things were going to happen. 

It was terrifying. 

And then, we finally made it.

30 weeks. 32 weeks. 35 weeks. 

It was finally safe for you to make your appreance. 

And you did.


Beautiful.
Healthy. 
Full of life.

And you were loved.

My sweet boy.

You are already six months old! Can you believe it? 
Some days I think to myself - he is ONLY six months old? I'm ready for him to be running around and talking and playing with Landon.

But then, we have moments like this...



And I want to freeze time and keep you just as you are - sweet, innocent, little. 

You have been my greatest joy and my greatest challenge and you can range from one or the other in record timing. 

Your persistent crying won you a pacifier addiction. Something I swore I would never give in to. 




And your sweet smile and excitement for everyone who looks at you makes me melt. 



Your lack sleeping has caused tears (for both of us) and frustration. It has kept me awake at night, questioning if I'm doing anything right.
On the other hand, some of my favorite moments with you are when the lights are out, everyone in the house is asleep, and we sit in our rocking chair and rock back and forth. Sometimes, only for a few minutes because I desperately want to get back into my bed, and other times, probably longer than I should. 
Looking at your sleeping face reminds me that even when it doesn't feel like it - I have to be doing something right, because the love I have for you trumps any doubts.



There are so many people who have fallen in love with you in just a short amount of time. 
However, nobody loves you like your big brother, Landon. He loves you so much and just by seeing the way you look at him and how you respond to him, I know the feeling is mutual. 


I know he said, "I think he wants to go bye bye" when we brought you home from the hospital, but he has had such a deep love and connection for you since you entered into this world.


"Sometimes, Toren just needs me, Mama." is enough for me to know that the bond between the two of you is something that doesn't compare to anything else. 


Toren,
You are only six months, but I know you are going to do great things.
I can see it. 

I see the way you observe everything around you. You take it all in.
I see how you respond when people speak to you.
I see your strength in how quickly you seem to be reaching new milestones .

You have a great purpose.

At only six months, it's hard to tell what you will become, but I know, whatever you decide to do, it is going to change this world. For the better. 

I just get the privilege to watch you, this amazing human being, as your Mama.




































Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Stand Off

Remember when I said it's important to show those beautiful imperfections that happen in our life. 

And remember when I said our kids are not always perfect and sweet and cuddly - and it's ok to admit that.

Well...here it goes. 

My children are not perfect either and sometimes, they terrorize things. 

Like their rooms. During "nap time." 



Legos dumped.
Cars all over the room.
Bed spread, sheets, AND fitted sheet are on the floor. 
Almost all the stuffed animals are stuffed into his pillow case.

I'm currently sitting on the floor, waiting for him to start cleaning up because I refuse take him downstairs until he picks everything up. 

Does he care? 


 Nope. 

Not one bit.

It's going on 45 minutes now.

Just sitting here. Waiting. 
I'm just waiting while he jumps on his bed reciting Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed. 

I can do this all night, Land....

Those of you who said three is worse than two - I was sure we would be spared.
I was wrong.