The Joy of Solitude

This might be silly to some of you, but…. there is almost nothing so relaxing to me as getting on our ride-on lawn mower on a perfectly beautiful evening and spending the next 2 hours mowing our ridiculously large backyard with nothing but my thoughts and my country music playlist coming through my headphones.
(All I was missing was an ice cold beer, folks!)

I love mowing our yard.
I love the solitude of it.

I love making neat straight lines in the grass and watching the sun slowly sink lower into the horizon.
I love seeing the birds come to look for fresh bugs to eat in the newly chopped grass lanes.
I love feeling the sun warm my exposed shoulders and feeling the breeze brush off the tiny flakes of grass sticking to my warm skin.
I almost always have to listen to country music when I am mowing the lawn because there is nothing quite so perfect as sitting on a John Deere tractor mower and enjoying songs about being a Redneck Woman and how some girl touched Tim McGraw’s heart Not a Moment Too Soon.

I love feeling so grounded doing something so normal and feeling like, for just a second, all the cares and concerns that have been building in my life and in my mind and on my heart are silenced in that space of time.

I think God meant nature to be a place where we can go and feel centered in Him.
A place where we can breathe deeply.
A place where being alone with ourselves is a therapeutic choice and immensely gratifying.
A place where we can watch the ever-faithful sun set, and remember that He is faithful and that He holds everything in His perfect hands.
By being alone in nature, I am reminded of how very close He is.

“It may be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive,
that when a man cannot bear his own company there is something wrong.” – Samuel Johnson


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Catching Up

As of tomorrow, it will have been 2 months since I last wrote. Life has felt like a whirlwind. Although my new job as an Enrollment Counselor is enjoyable in and of itself, the workload has been overwhelming and hard to manage most weeks. When I interviewed for the job I was told there would be “periods of time through the year when overtime was needed” and that those period of time fell during certain times of the year around the beginning of each new term. For me, I have been working overtime since January 1st and it doesn’t seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel yet. Let’s hope so…

I have also been more intentional with my diet and exercise. I am done with the fads and quick fixes (for now). I have noticed that this medication I am on for my PCOS (Metformin) has helped me SO much with sugar cravings, energy levels, etc. I have lost 6 lbs and it could have been more if I hadn’t gotten so “off” during a recent road trip up to Wisconsin where Culvers and other treats were consumed with reckless abandon. Hoping that sometime this weekend after some snow melts, I can hop back on the Snap Fitness 3-5 times a week wagon. Until then, healthy eating and portion control keeps me in check. πŸ™‚

Speaking of now – wth?!!? We didn’t have hardly any all winter and as soon as Valentines Day passed, we started getting lower temps and then WHAM! 12 inches of snow last Thursday and another 12 inches yesterday! We’re getting another 2 inches today? At least shoveling snow is a great alternative for a work out, my lower back is surprisingly tight and toned feeling! haha
I normally don’t grow bitter with the cold, but with an entire winter’s worth of snow dumped on us in less than a week I am feeling quite ready to see tree blossoms, green grass, tulips, and a thunderstorm or two.

Our trip to Wisconsin was very nice. Lots of time with my family and the wonderful Bougher family. We also had Anne (my brother’s fiance) join us, so that was very nice to spend some lengthy time with her – bonding and getting to know one another better. I am so happy that she is going to be a future sister and I LOVE how much she loves my brother. A lot of people make fun of the behaviors of people in love, but they’re seriously just jealous. If Anne misses Matthew after less than 24 hours of seeing him, who is anyone to say that is silly? I feel the same way with Chad. Heck, Chad and I miss each other just when we have to leave for work each day. Love is worth being all consumed and only becomes a clearer picture of the love relationship between us and our Savior. I think it’s beautiful.

So that is what has been going on. This coming March I am going to Portland, OR – so stay tuned for stories and pics from that. I will upload a slew of pics/videos from our trip to Wisconsin and the massive amounts of snow very soon…. πŸ™‚

What I am NOT thankful for.

So we went camping over a month agoΒ with some of our good friends, but writing a blog about it has been fairly low on my radar between everything else I seem to be juggling these days. At the top of that radar is typically work. At the bottom of my radar is typically sweeping and mopping my floors because that would require picking everything up off the floor that we’ve thrown there during the week and that would require doing laundry since some of the stuff on the floor is dirty clothes and that would require not having as much homework as I do and…. well, you get the point. πŸ™‚

So we went camping.

I gotta say it was a bittersweet experience for me.
I LOVED camping as a kid the few times we actually did.
I love our friends and spending time with them.
I love being outdoors.
I love cooking over a fire.
I love fire in general, especially burning things. (ask Chad. I am a total closet, or not-so-closet pyro/arsonist)

But I hate, hate, hate being cold.
Not THE COLD, but being cold.
I don’t mind THE COLD because with it comes scarves, seasonal coffee beverages, staying inside with a good book in front of a fireplace with actual fire in it (<– Fire! Yay!).

But feeling like my bones are about to snap in half from all the shivering and teeth chattering is not my favorite thing.

Thankfully, we were very active – for the most part – during the day going on walks, playing frisbee, having wood chopping tournaments, building bigger fires (OH YEAH!), etc.
It was the nights that were difficult.
I did not sleep, despite my 25 degree weather approved new sleeping bag, the 3 layers of pants and tops I was wearing, the blanket wrapped around me while I was inside my sleeping bag, the padding and blankets underneath me, the blanket on top of me, the hand warmers stuffed between my 2 layers of hunting socks, and the snow hat on my head. ALL OF THAT DID NOT KEEP ME WARM!

Leave it to Missouri to have an unseasonably cold weekend and the first 2 night FREEZE the very same two nights we chose to go camping. πŸ™‚

Alas, the days were a blast and we have the best friends for camping!
The nights were long and cold and I questioned my sanity, but we made it through and when we got home I enjoyed a hot shower, clean clothes, and a warm Temper-Pedic mattress.
I have so much to be thankful for.
I am not thankful for sleeping in a tent when it’s below freezing outside, but otherwise God has blessed my life and I am thankful. πŸ™‚


Our awesome tent:

Wood cutting/chopping contest!

Video of competition! πŸ˜€

Our friend Patrick:

Our friends Rachel and Andrew:

Chad playing with our friend’s Great Dane: Chief – who is HUGE!

Β Β 

Chad survived playing with Chief:

Chief leading Ryan around. πŸ™‚


In the freezing cold water:

Eskimo Ashley. πŸ™‚