Family, Faith, and Pumpkins

I LOVE being able to share our life with out of town family and friends through the blog, but I honestly procrastinate with these recap posts because they take so much effort!  It takes a significant amount of time to sort through photos, (if I haven’t misplaced the disk that I used!) fix the photos, effect and frame the photos, and then put those pictures to words instead of me spouting my pen off on some random topic that tickles my fancy for the particular moment.  But – I have made my peace with the amount of time it takes to construct these posts by telling myself that they can double as 7 baby books someday when I print each child a copy and hand it to them on their wedding day, right?  

 We started off the month of October with a weekend visit from Grammie and Papa, a wonderful time had by all.   The highlight was when Papa surprised the kids by bringing his two razors.  They had a blast whipping up and down the hills and crevices, to the river and back, blowing dust in everyone’s face and hollering pure joy at the top of their lungs.  Even Luke enjoyed a slower, more cautious version of the fun.

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IMG 7499 800x533“Dad! It’s too loud!”

 Last Saturday I decided to take six of the kids (Luke excluded) to the local fairgrounds where they were offering pumpkin decorating for $5.00, pumpkin included.  Sounded like a fantastic deal, especially considering that the mess would stay at the fairground.  Unfortunately the idea didn’t quite go as planned.  We arrived only to discover that it was a pumpkin painting contest, which drew lots of “Ughhhh’s and Noooooo’s” from the back of the van.  The kids had their hearts set on pumpkin CARVING so off we went to find some pumpkins to carve. We were successful and they had a great time making a gigantic mess all over our deck. 

IMG 7509 800x533“I want this baby pumpkin”


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IMG 7535 800x533The Proud Creations

I’ve been planning the Ronne Family Halloween Extravagance for about a year now after seeing the cutest costume idea on Facebook last year.  Here’s just a little preview of the fun to come; however, for some reason I couldn’t get the males in the family to agree to red tights so I suppose blue jeans it will be. 

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Our first visit to church was a wonderful experience, and I am very thankful.  That Sunday we also invited our neighbors over for a social gathering, the first since we’ve moved here.  It was so fun to entertain, even on a very small scale.   I made a tasty cheese dip and the girls made a childhood favorite of mine known as English Muffin buns.  These are such tasty, easy, little morsels.  If you need additional reassurance contact any of my siblings who will happily endorse them. I added the recipe for these to a new blog category called My Recipe Box which you’ll find in a side category  of the blog along with a few other features.   My goal is to occasionally add some of the tried and true gems I often make for my family.

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 Finally, we were brave, exceedingly, exceptionally brave, and we did something we do not plan on ever doing again.  We organized and conducted our own family photo shoot, and it did not go well.  Josh and Jada were so sad, Luke was so “all done” and Ryan and I felt the need to invest in some sort of relaxation inducing plant (just kidding, sort of…) by the end of it all.  Here are a few of the better shots we took. 






Just keep livin!!

Making Time for Lawyers and Turkeys (in no particular order)


During this period of admitted restlessness and boredom I’ve been busy taking a mental inventory of how exactly I used to spend my days in a former life of abundant civilization, obviously not in the same category as New York City, but I did have an abundance of entertaining options when I was in need of something to cure a day of impatient monotony. That may sound dramatic, but it feels true for me, especially in an entirely new southern culture which is foreign to anything I’ve ever known before, not at all bad, just completely different.  My existence now is in the middle of nowhere.  We live down a dirt road that leads to The River, we have one neighbor, and we are surrounded by trees and abundant wildlife including frequent coyotes, deer, snakes, and turkeys, which on a side note can be positively hilarious to watch after a night of roosting high in the tree branches and then ever so gracefully PLOPPING to the ground the following morning. 

In my new land I’ve learned how coyotes sound when they’ve captured something late at night, an entirely eerie, almost demonic like glee that escapes their lips and can rattle the calmest soul.  I’ve witnessed an itty bitty cotton mouth snake attempt to fight for his life as blood fervently gushes from his wounded body.  I’ve seen young cocky bucks act as if they’ve just entered paradise as they proudly stroll upon our fields, standing tall and arrogant, awaiting a parade of 72 virgin does. What I’m getting at is this is my reality.  Gone is Hobby Lobby, a source of constant creative inspiration, Costco, a source of all sorts of wonderfulness including unbelievably tasty pizza and equally decadent cheesecake, Jimmy Johns, a source of instant bliss after an intense workout at the gym, the malls, coffee shops, Michaels, and movie theater options.  We do, however, have an abundance of churches (having that in common with West Michigan), Dollar Generals, and lawyers.  Yes, it’s odd, but there are quite a few attorneys where I live, but I suppose that is probably the case in just about every corner of the world.

I’ve realized that some of the activities that used to occupy my time were genuinely good things: having coffee with a friend, meeting for play dates, helping friends and family, working out at the gym, cleaning, cooking, laundry, lots and lots of laundry, bills, breaking up fights, lots and lots of fights, reading stories, and writing – generally productive, meaningful, accomplishments, but many of the activities that occupied my time were purely time wasters and pretty shallow at their finest hours (Target will you please stand up?) And, if I’m being honest, I bought an excessive amount of stuff that I didn’t need only to return most of it a few days or weeks later, only to then exchange it out for more new stuff, all to keep up an endless façade of productivity. The point being, it gave me something to do, an envelope to easily tuck my precious moments into, something that had absolutely no value, momentarily or eternally, and something that I’m actually happy to have removed from my life (usually).

The quiet of my new life, the lack of entertaining options, is making me reevaluate my days, the moments, and the seconds.  The quiet is strangely gleaning out the gold, the stuff that matters, holding it up to a microscope and displaying very prominently how much time I actually spend with my husband, my family, my children, on others, on things that matter and not just motions filling my days as a hamster, spinning round and round on a wheel that leads to nowhere.  

What it boils down to is this.  Our move has forced me to look deeply inward  because the WHOOSH of commercialism  is pretty much obsolete and now all I hear is the WHOOSH of the wind (literally) and the eerie coyotes when they catch something  and in the process of it all I can finally hear God’s still quiet voice again.   He has been stretching this idea of a life of simplicity and what it means for my family.  By eliminating, getting rid of belongings, we have actually gained a precious commodity – time.  The question has become, what do I do with this time? How do I spend this valuable resource that I have been blessed with? 

First and foremost, I’m learning how to relax, to breathe, to think, allowing myself the luxury of rest – seems simple enough but not so much for me.  My husband has actually accused me of having no idea how to accomplish this task that seems so simple to most people.  I have been engrained with this idea of “work then play” which for some reason, the work part has stuck, probably because I’m never caught up, but the play part is much more difficult for me.  It’s an act that I’m discovering takes diligence, the art of being still, hearing my thoughts, hearing God’s voice, a meditation that becomes invaluable as it rejuvenates my inner being.

Second, I need to finish what I’ve started.  My book, 9 years in the making, my degree, 7 years in the making, my quilt, 20 years in the making! What the heck?? Wrap it up already.  

Third, I need to speak for those who can’t, specifically, my special boy Luke.   Baby steps in faith, but I’m starting to do it.   Make the calls, meet with the lawyers, dig my nonprofit dream the Lucas Project out of cobwebs, you get the idea. Start and finish something meaningful.

Fourth, cultivating quality family time.  With all the stuff stripped away there are no more excuses.  I love my family, but at times it feels like they prevent me from doing the meaningful stuff, like all of the above mentioned, really good ideas at their cores, but in reality, THEY, MY FAMILY, THAT’S THE MEANINGFUL STUFF.  They zap my energy; spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, all zapped in one big gulp. They engulf me and frustrate me at times; they require more than I want to give at times, they wring me dry of everything I have some days, but they are my biggest calling right now, my heart beat, the stick of what everything else will be measured against one day.  They are IT and by stripping away others that would vie for my time, I’m discovering that my relationships with my children, with my husband, and with my Savior, are rising to the surface, being refined, and slowly being transformed through this quiet life of simplicity.

Just keep livin!!

More of Me, Less of You

God’s been chatting with me lately.  I don’t even entirely know how to wrap my mind around what he’s saying because I’ve  only been offered small bites at a time which is okay because when Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth has a plan, there is no way my human understanding can comprehend the vastness of it all in one gigantic lump.

It all started a few weeks ago when I realized I was bored.  Not that I no longer had anything to do, that’s probably not going to happen until I die, but this general feeling of being dissatisfied, like something was missing, something was bubbling beneath the surface of my soul wanting and needing to get out.  I couldn’t quite put a finger on what exactly was going on in my spirit world, but I knew life was about to be rattled.  I was bored with writing, unmotivated to write on the blog or work on my book, bored with housework and laundry, seeing the numerous household projects but not caring, an overall feeling that there was something I wasn’t grasping, something causing the restlessness.  I started praying about it, asking the simple questions, “God, what? What is this about?  What am I missing?  Or am I missing absolutely nothing and you are teaching me contentment? Lord help me.”

And he answered, in a one line mantra, over and over throughout the day I heard “more of me, less of you.”  It took about a week of this, running through my heart, my mind, my dreams, my walks, “more of me, less of you, more of me, less of you,” and I prayed, earnestly, seeking to understand this admonishment, and I still don’t have all of the answers (although my type A personality sure would appreciate having most of the answers at this point) and some things have been made clear as I seek his will in this desire to live “more of him, less of me.” 

It is hard in our social media drenched society to NOT reach out for constant attention and to quickly lose focus on bringing glory to the ONLY one who deserves any glory.  It is hard as mothers to not want our children to appear as the cutest, the wittiest, or the brightest and social media gives us the perfect outlet to display all of these marvelous traits in our offspring.  It is difficult for ourselves to not want to appear witty and bright and in a me saturated environment, otherwise known as Facebook, this becomes our reality as we each put our best foot forward, our prettiest pictures, our wittiest lines, our greatest advice and stellar home decorating ideas.  Facebook has the remarkable ability to eliminate anything negative from anyone’s life (if you’re smart about it and not posting when you’re inebriated, high, or having a break from reality).  On Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or whatever it may be we have the opportunity to be perfect.  We, in a sense, create our own god like persona for the world to oooooh and ahhhhh about. 

It is also a constant contradiction of thoughts as a writer who wants so badly to be able to publish her first book and have people enjoy and purchase that book, a book that in its purest form is saying, “ALL glory, honor, and power be to the only one in the whole universe who could have ever orchestrated such beauty from ashes”  and yet remain detached from this idea of drawing attention to myself, remaining humble, trying desperately to not point the finger inwardly, but always upwardly, and admittedly not always do that so well.  It’s not in our human nature to do that well.  It is in our nature to want to draw attention to ourselves, to have people acknowledge our accomplishments; acknowledge our suffering, our pain, our beauty and our talents.  That’s human nature and that’s where I’m at right now, trying to figure out how to strip away this desire for me and get back to the root of everything living, and moving, and having existence in Him.   

Slowly…. some of the layers are being peeled away and they have been replaced with concrete movements for returning to a place of “more of me, less of you” because I know that all of this sounds spiritual and pure but without a plan in place it’s just holy gibberish. Blinders that have kept me from pointing upward for a while, blinders shielding my eyes from the pain of the world, the pain of so many in my new community, the pain of third world nations, the pain of children sitting next to my children in school, the pain of my own children at times.  So many layers of meness that have kept me from him – look at me, acknowledge me; me, me, me, so opposite of what we are called to do Biblically.  Layers of worldliness keeping me transfixed on the things of this world: clothes, money, esteem, shoes, delectable foods, things that should be growing strangely dim as I mature in the faith, but they don’t seem to be dimming in the slightest and there is something wrong with that, layers of inconsequential crap that I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in when my entire reason for being as a Christ follower should 150% revolve around showing Jesus Christ to the world and bringing glory to him in the process.  That’s it. 

To be continued…

By the way, Luke’s teacher has set up a wonderful fundraising opportunity in hopes of  purchasing additional equipment for his classroom and the school, specifically a handicapped accessible swing for the playground and handrails to be installed throughout the school to assist Luke in being able to walk more independently.  Thank you in advance for considering this special opportunity to help these kids who cannot always advocate for themselves.  The link to donate is –


Just keep livin!!

Beginnings and Endings

I’ve had a busy weekend that didn’t leave a lot of  time to write and instead of frantically pulling something together this morning, I decided to ask a  special woman, who I only know from online communities, if she would contribute one of her posts.  She and I have two ties that bind – she was mom to a special guy, very much like my Luke, and she has battled the beast known as glioblastomia brain cancer. She has also chosen to live, rather than wallow in the pain of the tragedies that have marked her life and you see her spirit of determination in everything she writes.  You can read more of her story at Here’s Danae.

  A little over 11 years ago my sister-in-law was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive, form of breast cancer. Inflammatory Breast Cancer. IBC, because cancer always sounds better when we give it an acronym. I immediately started researching because that’s just what I do. Lori chose not to know the statistics stating that they meant nothing, “Only God knows when our time is up, I could step outside and be hit by a car tomorrow”.  I have heard her repeat various versions of this statement over the many years between diagnosis and today. Even when Jordan was diagnosed she would tell me that none of us know what will happen. The fact that I said Jordan’s cancer was terminal didn’t carry the weight with her that it did with me. And the statistics for her cancer, that she chose not to hear, were not much better. A 5 year survival rate of much less than 50% – significantly worse than the more common forms of breast cancer. Me with my “realist” personality did not expect her to live long. She endured chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, much pain and discomfort, but she lived. The cancer remained stable for over 5 years before it reared it’s ugly head again, this time with mets to her bones. She remained optimistic as she faced this head on, rarely letting on how much pain she was in. During this time Jordan was diagnosed with glioblastoma. We didn’t see her family much during the time Jordan was sick. Her daughters were growing up, just as my sons were. 3 girls who were 8, 11, and 14 when mom was diagnosed with cancer. They watched her endure the awful side effects of chemotherapy, helped her with household things when she just couldn’t do it, even drove her to appointments. She attended all of their Confirmations and High School Graduations, two College Graduations and two Weddings. Recently things had gotten worse, chemos were causing more damage than good, stereotactic radiation didn’t help and options were running out. She was getting very tired and the cancer was taking a toll. Every milestone that her daughters’ hit I marveled that she was still with us. “Statistically” she shouldn’t have been. Two years ago her oldest daughter was married. I was amazed that she had made it so far and that she looked so good. This was right smack in the midst of Jordan’s 3 1/2 year battle with his cancer. This past week her second daughter was married and again mom was there for the big event. Lori kept beating the odds. Courage, Strength, Determination, and tremendous personal Faith in a God who would take care of everything in His own time, with His own plan.


 This is a photo of the family last weekend at the wedding. Little sister Tina is on the left next to her dad, Lori is next to Andrea the bride, next is Tim the groom, and then Grandma and Grandpa Hischke, on the right is big sister Holly.

 This is a picture of Lori and I taken at Holly’s wedding two years ago.

Friday morning, September 6, 2013, at 8:50am Lori died in a car accident. 

It was a stark reminder that we really don’t know how it’s all gonna end, or when  – a reminder to say what needs to be said, to hug those who need a hug, to live with no regrets, and to love. Always Love. 

Rest in Peace Loris Backer Hischke, you will be missed and remembered for always

“and now I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go

our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain But I’d have had to miss the Dance” – Garth Brooks

Just keep livin!!