Posted by: mstrohman | December 2, 2017

Reflection in the Northwoods

My first winter living in the Northwoods is just beginning. It’s December 1st, and I have developed a fascination with the forming ice.  I know most people’s opinions on this is “you can have it”, but I can’t help but love yet another one of God’s miracles of our earth.
3934E6F6-8595-44BD-ABA8-8BA143C49CD4I was convinced that the lake we live on only had a small bit of ice along the shore but upon closer investigation, with binoculars, I found that a little further out, what appeared to the novice to be open water, was simply ice formed with the ripples of the waves. Even farther out, on the other shore I could see the movement of open water.

Well, we have had several inches of snow so far, but it is all melted with our unseasonably warm temperatures (yes, unseasonably warm would be low to mid 40s). Therefore while the ice is forming we still have falling leaves, and it is mesmerizing to watch them fall upon the ice, expecting them to sink, but instead seeing them skitter across for several feet. We comically refer to our outdoors as “the frozen tundra”. I am still shocked at myself that someone who deplores being cold could possibly love it in the Northwoods at this time of year. We shall see if it lasts.9AF6FDA5-F4A0-4B5B-AE11-280AD6F4DE89

I spent some time today traveling to a much larger lake, Lake Minocqua . It was an incredibly windy day, and the white capped waves tore apart the forming ice, already several inches thick in areas. The ice stacked along the shore creating a tinkling sound as the waves continue to crash against them. Next week will likely be a different story as the temperatures are expected to be in single digits. While the thought of bone chilling cold makes me want to cozy up to the fire, the intriguing forming ice will pull me outdoors for a closer view, for a short while anyway.


Posted by: mstrohman | December 27, 2014

Going outside the box

In the spring of 2008 we began going to a new church.

Our daughter Amy had started getting up early every Sunday and going to church with a friend. Since we had fallen out of going to church the prior year, in part due to Amy’s lack of interest, we were somewhat curious / concerned of what she had gotten into. After many weeks of this non typical teenage behavior we decided it was time to check it out, so one Sunday we joined her.

The church, a nondenominational with a Baptist background, was very different than what our Catholic / Lutheran educations had taught us about what going to church should be. The lesson that morning was the first in a 3 part series titled ’20 questions’. The morning flew and instead of the typical timing of the sermon, counting the minutes until the end (not proud of it) we were more like ‘”it’s over already?” It was informative and fun with great music, and oh did I mention we got to bring our coffee into worship (sometimes it’s the little things). Well we were hooked, and we haven’t missed a Sunday since unless we are out of town.

A few months later in the fall of 2008 the church decided to move. They sold the building and already had land in Channahon to build on, but the bottom dropped out of the economy and the decision was made to meet instead in the Channahon Junior High School. This meant setting up & tearing down every Sunday. I am not going to lie my first thoughts were eww how’s that going to work and it’s kind of weird to meet in a school but it will only be for a little while, right? The church asked for volunteers to help in many areas, not having a building would be a challenge no-one here had faced before. Every week the ‘church’ would be unpacked & repacked from trailers in very meticulously labeled rolling boxes.

The Coffee Cart

The Coffee Cart

So we signed up to help; I volunteered to make coffee; I figured that would be an easy job and keep me on my own. Well, the weekly set up & tear down became a well-oiled machine. Everyone knew what needed to be done and each week the school cafeteria was transformed.

Fast forward to the present, December of 2014. Three days ago our new church was christened with its first service. Christmas Eve. After a little over a year of planning, building, and then once vacated by the builder, a final 2 week push from so many in the congregation pulling together, painting, cleaning & decorating we were in – and WOW – how wonderful!

After 6 years of making coffee out of that box tomorrow morning I will make coffee for church, not in the school art room but in our new building with a new set up / tear down plan… but no box.

The last few weeks has been a whirlwind getting the church ready and there has been a lot of reflection while painting, sawing, sanding & scrubbing.

I learned a few things while hanging around those boxes.

  • A church is not about the building, people make the church.
  • Sometimes you gotta put yourself out there. Yeah, get out of your box! You might get hurt, it happens, but chances are you will probably find someone facing the same thing & can help you through.
  • Sometimes doing something that is a little different for you can make all the difference in you!

Truth be told, I’m going to miss that box, but going outside the box has so many possibilities in store for me and my church.

Come join us won’t you?

Posted by: mstrohman | November 4, 2012

I’m Back

Since July 10th I have taken a blogging break (for both of our sakes).  It has been a busy few months; a shower, three weddings, two rehearsal dinners, two road trips, a funeral and a birthday party and along with the usual daily grind I got out of the blogging habit, but I’m back.

Prior to turning 50 I wanted to do a 5K.  I guess it was on my “bucket list” although I didn’t really think of it that way; it was just something I wanted to do.  Well it didn’t happen, I got injured and I was really upset that I wasn’t able to do it according to plan. I felt like that was it, if I couldn’t do it before I turned 50 I sure wouldn’t be able to do it afterwards so I gave up the idea, accepting the fact that I am just not a runner. 

Then one Sunday along comes Bob (our church runner/trainer/all around good guy) “Hey, we started a running group couch to 5K yesterday, I know you were interested before so why don’t you join us.  It’s not too late just do the homework this week and join us next Saturday”  I said ok and did my two days of walk / run during the week got up Saturday morning drove to the 4 Rivers Park in Channahon and had a bit of a panic attack on the way, “what was I thinking?” went on in my head over and over but I did it, barely.  I was incredibly sore the rest of the day and my chest hurt from breathing in all that fresh air (I am more of a controlled climate kind of exerciser).

About 4 weeks into the 8 week program I had had it.  I was sore all the time, my knee hurt a lot and not being particularly fond of pain (as few are) I was ready to call it quits.  I mean I tried right?  I am just too old and overweight to start something like this! The day I decided to quit, before I had told anyone of my decision, I got a text from my 21 year old daughter “So proud of you for doing your running class!! Remember, no matter how fast you’re going you’re lapping everyone on the couch”. 

What a great kid, and damn her, whirled in my head.  Well clearly I couldn’t quit after that, so I plodded on.

Well yesterday was the big day.  I was a wreck; even though both my kids signed up to do it with me for support I was still nervous as heck.  I had only run 2.5 miles so far and that had taken me 45 minutes, was I really ready for this?  900 people lined up and I took my place at the back of the line; but in front of the strollers.  At the last minute my mind raced, I adjusted my knee brace about 5 times, thought I had to use the bathroom again, hoped I didn’t drink too much water & coffee… I am the type of person that has to do it all the way so walking for awhile, while absolutely acceptable, was simply not an option for me, could I do it or would I fail.  Then the cannon blast announced the race was on, ready or not here I go.

The kids went thru the start with me and then they were off, and it was me and my well thought out playlist.  Harry Connick Jr started me off with “Here Comes the Big Parade”.  Most of the race went pretty well, about halfway through I started struggling then Bon Jovi crooned in my ear “ohh, were halfway there,  ohh oh living on a prayer” I grabbed the water offered slugged some down and continued while the Dixie Chicks told me I was “ready to run”.  Then towards the end it got tough and Coolio rapped “you gotta keep pushing, you’re a winner” then I saw Bob and knew I was really close, he shouted encouragement and the rest was uphill, suddenly I hit a wall and didn’t know how I could take another step, a fellow runner, Jeff, saw that on my face and jumped in and ran with me.  I made it through, that last hill was brutal but I did it.  It was awesome to see my friends and family cheering me on as I crossed that finish line.  My time was 47.02 and I ran every step!

I owe Bob big thanks for all of his encouragement and advice but mostly for taking that minute and asking me to join – it’s not that I needed a personal invitation but having it definitely helped override my trepidation.  For me this was more than simply a 5K, it was working toward a goal and not quitting, it was being okay to lean on people and even for accepting a little praise.

I love being able to see God working in my life and this was one of those times that everything fell into place, right down to my song picks.

While I don’t honestly know if I will keep doing it I can comfortably say what I was pretty hesitant to say before this race… “I am a runner”!

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