Friday, June 22, 2012

Life in June

   It's a perfect summer day here in Wisconsin...70* and sunny. I love it! June's been a good month...Kara and I started it out right with a big day of garage-saling and thrift store shopping on the first day of June! :)
   We also had some fun Schrock family get-togethers...these always include cute kiddos, lots of laughter, and generally, a pretty good spread of yummy food!
     The following weekend we headed to Indiana...
     This little man rode with Tom and I for a while...I love watching him grow up! And yes, he was eating fresh peas--and loving them! 
     The main reason for going was for a dispersal auction of my great aunt's belongings/a Kauffman family reunion (which would be my mom's side of the family). 

    The Kauffman cousins know how to have a good time! Our definition of good: "crazy, including lots of laughter, and some very blonde moments."
     I really like this picture of Grandma and her daughters. They are all very special to me!

     I had to include this too:

     We came home from the auction with more than I had anticipated...Our purchases included, but are not limited to: this trunk, all these old books and the old camera...

     This big jug, which we will use to save our loose change for something wonderful (still to be decided).

    And this little beauty (for $2). Ok, I'll admit it's a bit old, but my mom always used one at home, and I found myself missing having my own, so this was just the ticket!

   And here are a few pictures of us from the weekend:

     Since I've been home more this week, I was determined to take advantage of it and get some more decor up around here. It seems like the more I'm home the better my creative juices work. Maybe it's just that when I work away, I lose motivation for projects here at home. Anyway, here's the one wall arrangement I came up with this week. I think it still needs some tweaking, but I need some time to decide what it needs. I was going for the canvas look with the saying, but in reality it's just a cardboard box, scrapbook supplies, and mod podge. It'll work for now.

     Yesterday I did felt slightly strange to do them all alone. No siblings to help pick, no Mom and Kara to help with the cutting, and none of the others to do the washing, smashing, and sweetening. It all went well though, and my jam set up just fine! Yay! 
     I also made my first strawberry pie, since I knew that was on Tom's list of favorites. He pronounced it "fierce good". 

 Well, I'm off to enjoy the sunshine and make my laundry keep happening! A lovely afternoon to you all! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

::How It All Began::

This is my story about the months before Tom and I started dating. The italicized sections are excerpts from the journal that I kept very faithfully during those days! Be warned, there are lots of details and girly emotions in this story, and it may not interest you at all. I wrote this several months ago so that I would remember. It's long too and I apologize if it bores you! You may not even agree with how we handled our friendship, but I know that God knew what I needed, and the way He wrote my story still awes me.

So, on June 20, 2009, I met Tom Schrock. Officially, that is, I knew who he was before that…It was at the wedding of Zeke and Juliane Zacharias. Little did I know that my friends LeeAnne and LouCinda had a plan in mind when they paired the two of us up for serving, and little did we dream that the plan would ever come to fruition!
6-26-09 “I served with Tom Schrock…we served punch and water, punch and water, punch and water forevermore! It was such a warm day, so I think it made people drink a lot! But we worked hard, and I, at least, had fun. Tom was just a fun, talkative, energetic guy.”
At first I was unwilling to admit that I liked this guy quite a bit. He added me as a friend on facebook, and that was about the extent of our contact for a couple of months. Deep down though, I was struggling with feelings…He WAS fun and talkative (on face book) and my family didn’t help matters with their suspicions about Tom….
7-13-09 “Guess what…today Grandma emailed, wondering who this ‘Tom Schrock is that keeps replying to your comments…I think he likes you...’”
Still though, I would not write in my journal what I was feeling for him…I kept thinking that this was just a short lived “thing” I had for him, and I’d get over it soon. On August 6th I finally admitted in writing that he seemed like an exciting possibility, but I still had a million doubts and questions swirling through my mind. At the beginning of September, Tom started staying in touch even more, by chatting through facebook…just random friendly questions about what was keeping me busy. In October we went to a Northwoods volleyball game for the first time. I remember having a very good time and that he seemed to enjoy it as well, since he sent me a facebook message later encouraging us to come more often, and also asking if I texted. (alas, I did not…but we’ll get to that level in the relationship with time!). 
10-4-09 “Just for the record, he didn’t seem to do or say anything extraordinary while we were hanging out, he’s friendly with everybody & therefore I find him hard to read.”
  And that’s about where it was…I was suspicious one minute, because he seemed so friendly, and the next minute, I was sure he was just like that with everyone he met. 
10-10-09 “Tom keeps in touch (through comments and occasional chats) on face book…to be quite honest, it tugs at my heart and makes my feelings a little difficult to control! I find myself admiring so much about him…I’m praying that if these feelings aren’t from God, He’ll take them away, or make Tom stop talking to me, or something to make it easier, cause I’m afraid I’m wrong…”
In mid-October my friend Melinda starting dating the man that she had been praying about for months….Listening to her story and recalling the love stories of others of my friends inspired me to start praying seriously about Tom, to ask God to reveal His will in all of it, though my feelings felt so fickle at times. So I wrote…
10-14-09 “So…I’m starting to pray that way about this situation with Tom. I am not sure if this admiration I have for him is enough for a relationship if it should ever come to that. I’m praying that ONLY if it is God’s will, will Tom ever be interested, so that if it ever happens, I can go ahead with the assurance that it’s God’s will….If it’s not God’s will, I’m praying that my feelings and all that will fade into nothingness.”
At this point, a part of me wanted to tell my parents what was going on in my heart…to tell them what I was praying…but I felt so unsure of what God’s answer would be, and so vulnerable, that I kept it to myself and poured it out in my journal. 
If I thought God would answer my prayer by making Tom cease communication within a few days, I was wrong! He continued to stay in touch. It was a continual releasing it to God…I would try to open my hands and say, “take it, God“, and the next thing, I’d feel like I had closed my hands again and was saying “God, I want him”, and I’d have to release it again. At the end of October, I was still so confused, but trying to trust that maybe God wanted to teach me through the waiting.  (Keep in mind that this was still over a year before he would ask me out…little did I know how much waiting was ahead!)
My sister and I continued to interact some with Tom’s youth group, playing volleyball, etc…I was a mess when it came to trying to read him, analyzing every action towards me…after all, what DOES it mean when a guy makes you his setter every possible time?  
I remember one week, Tom hadn’t contacted me at all, so I thought, “ok, maybe this is my answer to prayer, maybe he’s going to stop talking, and it will all go away.” That very same day, he started chatting on facebook and we had a nice half hour long conversation…and then I was confused again. I tried to be very careful not to initiate much contact with him. If he wanted to pursue me, let him do the pursuing! 
In January of 2010, I was asked if I would be interested in taking a substitute teaching position at Northwoods Mennonite School, Tom’s church’s school. This threw me for a loop….I didn’t know if God was giving me the opportunity for a reason, or if this would simply make things worse for me. For one thing, teaching was completely new for me, and I wasn’t sure that I could handle the stress of that, plus all the emotional stuff I knew I would feel from being in closer contact with Tom. Also, by now I felt that lots of people were getting suspicious of our friendship turning into something more, and I did not want anyone to have any reason to accuse me of “chasing” Tom. After praying about it, it seemed like God closed those doors for me.
1-25-10 “I know I need to trust God with this. Why am I even praying if I’m not going to trust?…I have to trust. In reality, that’s all I CAN do. God is the one who is going to send the RIGHT man…It is all in God’s hands, so why am I worried? He’s so awesome, and He delights in me, and His plans for me are GOOD. Who knows, maybe not always easy, but good. I also kept dreaming about Tom the last couple of days. Dreams like hearing him call dad and the such like. Strange.”
Over this time, I was having lots of trouble with my appetite, and would throw up for no good reason, I still am not able to explain if this was due to my emotional state or some other health issue. I do know that often before I would see Tom, I would throw up…my body’s normal reaction to stress. I think I lost about 15 lbs in a couple of weeks, and people were starting to notice and wonder what was going on. I wondered too, but there was no way I was about to confess my stress about Tom to them! 
My friend Geneva, who was currently at Maranatha Bible School, was hired to fill the role of substitute teacher. I offered to go pick her up after midterm program and bring her home with me for the weekend, before taking her up to Northwoods for Sunday morning. I took Melinda with me for company, and we drove the three and a half hours to Austin, MN. I knew that Tom’s parents were heavily involved in the Bible School and would probably be at the program. I was not prepared for Geneva to come up to me and inform me that Ruthie wanted to meet me! I also recall that Dan knew my name, and they said they’d heard about me. My suspicions were raised. On the drive home, we girls were laughing pretty hard, as only girls who are up long after midnight can laugh, and all the nerves I had managed to control so well all evening broke loose, and I had to pull over and throw up. Oh the memories! We got home in the wee hours of the morning, but between all my curiosity about his and his parents actions at the program, and my fears about going to his church that Sunday, I got very little sleep. 
  I remember feeling queasy that Sunday morning and drinking ginger ale in an attempt to settle my stomach. I remember seeing Tom come into church out of the corner of my eye. I remember we were invited to Tom’s brother Tim’s house for Sunday dinner. Since Tom lives next door, and his parents were gone, he was invited as well…I remember seeing him come up the sidewalk and I remember trying to act normal. I remember that as we were seated at the dinner table, I had two options: to sit next to Tom or to sit one chair farther away…I chose to sit farther away, my nerves were too edgy to be too near him. Tom’s brother Eric and SIL Julia were also there. I felt like I was intruding on a family reunion, and I also couldn’t help but feel that Tom’s family was watching,--matchmaking. Oh no, they never let on--they were super nice, there was lots of fun and laughter at the table, but I felt like a completely different person due to my nervousness, I just could not loosen up, and had to force my lunch down…only to have it come back up. Did I forget to mention that this was Valentine’s Day?  
2-14-10 “Halfway though lunch I had to go throw up. I am still rather upset at myself. I didn’t mention anything and forced the rest down. Still felt kinda yucky, but I lived. I feel like I acted rather strange and quiet, and I could kick myself. After Erics left, the rest of us crashed in the living room until I could drop Neva off around 4…I felt like I was able to relax and enjoy myself a bit more!”
2-17-10 “I feel confused, afraid that I’ve become attached to something I can’t have…afraid of getting hurt…I’m afraid that in all my praying, thinking and sorting through my feelings, I’ve let myself dwell on this situation too much, in yet I have been praying that God would help me get rid of these desires if they’re not from Him. What’s my part? Yesterday morning I woke up and decided that I would try not to consciously think about him or the situation. I cried to out to God for help, especially if thinking about him was really wrong…So, it all went pretty well for about 20 minutes…then *pop*--up jumped that little chat screen, and guess who it was…I think facebook helps make life just a little more confusing.”
Then there was the day that we were chatting and he wondered how old I was, he thought maybe 21.…I told him that I was actually only 19. He had a hard time believing me…
2-19-10 “I was like ‘hello, he doesn’t even know how old I am…that’s how much I matter to him?!’…Bother….why do I even care?”
2-28-10 “Do I even want him? But, oh, sometimes I think I DO! He hasn’t talked to me for over a week and somehow that seems AGONIZINGLY long! Why?…God, PLEASE! Take these feelings away and help me to TOTALLY release him and any dreams of a future with him if that’s not in your will for me. Please! This is the cry of my heart!"
I don’t know how many times I prayed a prayer very similar to this one in those many months…over and over and over.  I feared that somehow I was feeding the feelings, struggled with understanding why they wouldn’t go away… I remember one day spending a lot of time journaling and praying and reading…here are some excerpts from that day…
3-2-10 “Are my prayers amiss? Why does God not show me His heart and His will in this matter…His ways are not my ways, His thoughts are so much higher  than mine. Who knows, maybe the only thing I’ll ever get out of this situation is a deeper trust in God and more patience. And maybe that’s the important thing…You know, I could be SO wrong…what I “think” I want could be totally what I don’t want. That’s why I’m so GLAD that God is in control of this. If I can remember that I’m much better off… Later: I was just reading in Elisabeth Elliot’s “Passion and Purity” and this is what I came across… “If the yearnings went away, what would we have to offer to the Lord? Aren’t they given to us to offer? It is the control of passion, not it’s eradication that is needed. How would we learn to submit to the authority of Christ if we had nothing to submit?”
3-4-10 That chapter [in Passion and Purity] was so meant for me! It fit so completely what I was feeling and suddenly I realized what God might be trying to do:.. teaching me to continually surrender this to Him…to learn submission! Granted, I still don’t completely see the benefit of deeply liking someone if God never allows anything more to happen with it….
Toward middle of March I remember that there was a spurt of almost no contact with Tom at all…this confused me…it was so opposite of how he had been before! 
3-20-10 Sometimes I just wish I could ask him, ‘what’s wrong? Are you ok?’ Is he just so busy and happy that he doesn’t feel like talking to the face book world? Is he depressed? Is he trying to show me by not talking much that he’s not interested at all? Is he trying to hide interest? Is he pursuing another girl? Why do I care?”
To this day, I’m not sure what happened there…Tom doesn’t remember either, so I think it was just life, nothing intentional…but that was me for you, ever analytical, and as changeable as the weather…one minute I wanted him to go away, now I wanted him back! 
Then there were periods of just waiting, and feeling more peaceful…I wasn’t always on an emotional rollercoaster, just a lot of the time! 
In June, Melinda started asking questions…what would I do if Tom asked me out? I told her almost everything…Kara was the only person that knew what I was feeling up until then. (Here I’d like to insert a BIG thank you to my friends and family, Kara and Melinda and my parents especially, who listened to and prayed for me all those months…it honestly had to get old hearing me harp on this one thing that was so often heavy on my heart!) 
Once I had taken that step of telling someone else and making myself vulnerable, I thought I should tell my parents too. Besides that, Tom was starting to keep in touch a lot more again…now through texting as well, and I was starting to wonder if he was getting serious. My parents knew about our communication, but they still didn’t know what I was feeling. Everything that Tom and I talked about was surface stuff, just friendly…it was more the frequency of the communication, almost all initiated by him, that made me wonder--what were his intentions!?
6-13-10 “I had a good long talk with Dad and Mom tonight. I feel more vulnerable, but more lighthearted. They think it’s ok to pray the way I have been. GOD CAN BE TRUSTED.”
And it just went on…being friendly, trying to hold my dreams loosely, praying. By now my entire family knew the state of things in my life…
7-27-10 “I’m afraid I’ve become too emotionally involved in all this…what would happen if he started dating someone else? I’ve prayed…what else can I do to  become ‘unattached’? I’ve prayed so many times that God would make it go away if it’s not right, what more should I be doing?! Give me wisdom, God!”
9-16-10 “Today has completed the record breaking week in which he contacted me all of 7 days in a row.”
I continued to pray…hard! It was starting to feel more and more “real”…like he was going to ask me out, but I was trying to keep a handle on my own feeling…not wanting to mistake mere excitement over his attentions as real feelings for him. Then sometimes, I even got almost upset…
9-23-10 “I was kinda ranting last night to Mom…he almost frustrates me…why is he so friendly if he doesn’t mean anything? It’s just not right!”
It wasn’t so much that I was in a hurry for him to call…I JUST wanted to know his intentions…I could’ve waited a long time as long as I would’ve had the assurance that he would ask me someday! 
At the end of October we hosted a hymn sing in our haymow for a group of youth. I remember Tom being very interested in coming and recruiting a group to come down from up there. I also remember being nervous about the hosting and the fact that he would be meeting my family.
11-1-10 “Ya know…I kinda like him…sigh…what to do?…he’s fun to be around. I don’t know…I can’t read him, but I SURE WAS WATCHING HIM!”
More friends started asking questions…what was up with us? I tried to act nonchalant…I know now that I didn’t do a very good job, several of  our friends were sure of my interest in Tom…some tried to assure Tom to go for it. 
Now I want to make this clear…Even though it was an emotional year for me, I’m grateful for the way God timed things.  It was good for me to wait, I needed all that time to grow and get ready for this relationship. By the time I’d prayed about it for a year, I guess you could say I knew what my answer would be if he asked me out! 
11-12-10 “Somehow it all feels so real, like it’s going to happen, but really, it might not. I don’t know how to keep people from thinking things…maybe if I’d stop hanging out with him whatsoever. But I don’t want to do that…I just don’t want it to be either me or other people making something happen…I want it to be a God thing.”
And then….wonder of wonders, one fine Sunday afternoon, the phone rang:
11-28-10 “…I’m almost shaking…the phone rang…Kara hollered for me to answer it…I picked it up, but heard that someone had answered upstairs…I just heard a voice say, ‘Hi Dan, this is Tom Schrock’…!!! I hung up the phone and fell into a dead faint. Well, not quite, but I definitely couldn’t believe my ears! Dad’s still in his room…not on the phone, but I checked the caller ID and it’s Tom’s cell #…I don’t know what to do with myself…the nap I was going to take is far from me now…”
And so, about 4 days later my cell phone rang…Tom had just finished his meeting and gotten permission from Dad and wanted to know….would I be interested in dating him? Interested?!! He had no idea how long I’d been waiting for this!!! 
12-2-10 “…I am elated!  Big cheesy grin pasted on! I got off the phone grinning and finally SO HAPPY!
Thus began our relationship, and it keeps getting better every single day…I’m so grateful that this man is now my husband. And the best husband there could ever be for me! GOD IS AMAZING! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yet Another Blog

There are hundreds and hundreds of blogs in cyberspace already, I realize, and that fact makes me a bit hesitant to add my voice to the chorus. After all, I do not consider myself a writer, and my thoughts will rarely impart great wisdom. So many bloggers write so well, with an honesty that strikes a chord somewhere deep within me, and I can completely relate with their feelings, weaknesses, etc. I love that in writers, but I can't promise that I'll pull it off. I might stick to picture posts, recipes, or a tiresome account of a day in the life of a housewife. Who knows! But maybe--just maybe this will stretch me, will teach me to write well, to be honest and open, to take note of the little happy things in life, and to record events in life so that I don't forget. If it teaches me all that, then this blog will be worthwhile for me, whether it is for anyone else or not. So...welcome! :) Help me out by letting me know what you want to hear or what you want pictures of...and if posts are few and far between, I hope you can forgive me!