This summer, I began studying for the APTD (Associate Professional in Talent and Development) credential, which is a new offering through ATD. Matter of fact, I was in the first pilot group. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications and being an eLearning Developer for 7 years, I knew I had the knowledge and skills but desired another credential to display and reaffirm my talent.
After 3 months of waiting, I recently learned that I am officially an APTD credential holder. The timed 2 hour test was not an easy one. It focused primarily on instructional design, training delivery, and learning technologies. Evaluating learning impact and global mindset was also included in the exam. The 115 questions were pulled from 500 pages worth of content I had studied. Out of the 300-some people who joined the pilot group, 99 of us passed this rigorous test and earned the credential! I feel extremely honored to be a part of this elite group!
This week you may have noticed purple weeds like the ones shown above, that have suddenly taken over entire fields. During my afternoon walk today, I caught myself being drawn into the beautiful scenery, smiling with each step. After thinking to myself “how could something so pretty and appealing be a weed?”…I crouched down to take a few up-close pictures. Changing my perspective allowed me to see the weed for what it really was, instead of what it was disguising to be. This beautiful flower-like plant was using it’s beauty to fool me. In reality, this weed will choke desirable plants and crops, preventing them from growing and producing a crop.
Mark 4:18-20 suddenly entered my mind, as it was included in my Bible study this week. “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
We encounter “weeds” in our daily life that try to deceive us, using their beauty as a disguise. What worries or desires of life are you combatting today that are preventing you from being fruitful?
Life. It has it’s ups and downs, laughter and tears, memorable moments and those we would rather forget. It’s not promised to us…no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Yet as we go through each day, are we truely appreciating the gift of life? Or does it seem easier to go through the motions, watch time as it ticks by, dwell on our challenges, and wait for tomorrow to start (hoping for a better day)?
Lately, the second option would best describe me. That may come as a surprise for those who know me. I’ve often had people ask how I remain so positive and happy, with a constant smile on my face, even through traumatic situations. The answer is…I’m not always that positive, confident person. I’m human. I experience sadness, negativity, and struggles too. I need pep talks, encouragement, and support from others. I’m not superwoman.
My faith and knowing that I can trust God has gotten me through the “not so fun” parts of life. Recently, I’ve experienced a situation that broke me completely, and for a moment my trust in everything in this world. Getting through the day was a struggle, having conversations with people without crying was nearly impossible, my heart literally ached. Slowly I’ve started to put the broken pieces of me back together.
A large part of the healing process occurred this week. Josh had business to take care of in Wisconsin and Iowa, so I took the week off to go with him. During the drive from Wisconsin to Iowa we came across a site that I still have a hard time grasping. Rather than explain it myself, I’ll let the videos do the talking…which really doesn’t do it justice either. Keep in mind we were driving down a busy highway in the middle of nowhere.
After sitting along the road for a short while, we realized there were many more of these creatures over the hill…totaling to at least 30, if not more! It makes me wonder how many people drive by and didn’t see this unusual site. How often in life are we so focused on getting to where we need to be that we don’t pay attention to the “now” and appreciate what’s right in front of us?
An hour away from this awesome site, the hotel we stayed at was located on the Iowa River. It was a peaceful view, which became even more eye catching when we realized there were bald eagle nests right outside the hotel. As I wrote this blog, I watched those eagles soar outside our room. Occasionally, they will swoop down to the water and catch supper for their young. One day I sat on the bed for 30 minutes just watching them fly, appearing to be at ease as the wind carried them.
Between the quiet, devotional time I had this week, many “goosebump – ok God, I’m listening” moments, and these two sites, I was reminded that all of us on this earth…no matter the circumstances…are blessed. We are here for a reason. There’s a plan for all of us. In order to truly understand what good times feel like, we must experience difficult situations. Even though it may not seem like it at the time, things could always be much worse. It’s all just a part of life…a gigantic puzzle that’s being put together, jumbled when something runs into the pieces, then starting over with thankfully a few of the pieces still intact. God didn’t put us on this earth to please us in every aspect of our life, we aren’t in control of the puzzle, we are here to live out HIS plan and HIS desires. Who do we think we are to tell God his plan in wrong? The video below was in a book I read this week (Crazy Love), and boy does it make you think!
So many great things happened in 2016…I received a promotion and achieved big accomplishments professionally, read through the entire Bible in one year, lost 23.2 pounds, finally became fit and active – making me be in the best shape of my life, went on a memorable belated honeymoon, and Josh was released from his doctors. We were so blessed that I didn’t want the year to end…but I’m excited for what’s to come this year.
Over the past few weeks, BIG changes have been happening to this website. First, I finally bought my own domain. Viewers are no longer taken to a “wordpress.com” website. That means you will also no longer see advertisements on this site. YAY!
Second, the website had a HUGE makeover. The purpose behind this site transitioned from a personal blog, to an online portfolio that showcases my work samples and professional life. Most people have no idea what a Senior eLearning Developer does or what a degree in Visual Communications entails. I know I didn’t several years ago. So if you are curious , I recommend browsing the site. (Just click the menu at the top of the page.) With that being said, this blog will remain in existence. No worries!
Happy New Year to all!
Two years ago, Josh and I embarked on our first adventure together. After hearing me talk about my love for photography he mentioned there were bald eagles only 1.5 miles from his house. Not knowing him well enough yet, I was a bit worried why he wanted to take me into the woods. But I figured this tough country girl could handle herself. We went on a short ride along the river to what appeared to be an eagle habitat, with a gigantic nest that a human could fit in. But no eagles were in sight. Matter of fact, I didn’t have my first eagle sighting until March of this year, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect moment.
My family has a thing with birds…owls to be exact. The night of August 12, 2010 my parents and I sat together in prayer. My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer that summer and her surgery was scheduled for the next day. As we prayed that God would keep her safe and give her strength to win the battle, we also struggled to understand why God would put her through this situation. Shortly after reading our favorite bible verse (Psalm 121) together, we heard the hooting of an owl. Standing on the sidewalk and peeping into the window was a HUGE owl. He stood there and eagerly watched us. I had never seen an owl that close before!
Over the next 6 years our family experienced major trials together that most people never encounter in their lifetime. When we hit a low and needed a reminder that God was watching over us, that he has a plan for everything and it will all work out for the best, an owl would make an appearance. This happened when: mom won her battle with cancer, my engagement was broken (thank goodness!) a few months before the planned wedding, I was driving home from meeting Josh the first time, and when Josh came home from an accident that doctor’s didn’t expect him to survive. A lot for just 6 years. Our lives were so crazy that last year an owl moved his home close to ours, and he could constantly be seen sitting at the end of our driveway at night.
Most recently though, on that day in March when I really needed to see an owl, I saw a bald eagle instead. This was my first eagle sighting! I had been recuperating from medical tests earlier that day to determine if health issues I’d had lately were due to cancer. As my parents pulled into our driveway to bring by a celebratory supper (that’s right, no cancer), a bald eagle was perched in a tree near the end of our driveway. Yes, our life got so chaotic that we upgraded from an owl to a bald eagle! I giggled at God’s gracious sense of humor as ventured outside and took this video that day.
Two weeks ago Josh and I went for a walk and stopped by the eagle’s nest, the one we visited when embarking on that first adventure. To our surprise someone was home! Sitting there on a tree limb was a gigantic, beautifully created bald eagle. Most people would get excited about such a sighting because they are a rare, endangered species. But it meant so much more to me. The previous day I had a major heart-to-heart with God. I was struggling with the right words of encouragement and comfort to help my husband with something he was dealing with. I even wrote this scripture in my prayer journal “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7) I wanted to remind myself to never give up on my role as a helper, wife, worker, and just overall christian. So when I saw the eagle I knew God was telling me everything was going to be great, that he was going to guide me and build me to be a strong helper for my husband. And the photographer in me was going so crazy that how could it not be an awesome moment?! Josh and I sat there next to the river and watched the eagle until we decided it was time to let him be. Feel free to click on the images below to make them bigger.
There’s nothing like breathing in fresh country air, closing your eyes and listening to the critters, knowing that the only things in close vicinity are nature and God. The 70 degree weather this weekend encouraged me to go on long walks, not only because my body physically needed it but I craved the emotional break. I may not be normal…well ok we all know I’m not, but going on a 3.5 mile walk is like hitting the reset button for me.
Half way through my peaceful walk I heard something moving in the thicket right next to me…a BIG something. I stopped to listen more intently and of course it stopped too. When I started walking again so did the mysterious creature. At this point I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. What in the world could this big creature be? All of a sudden a deer jumped out and sprinted in front of me. After realizing my life wasn’t in danger I got out my phone and captured the creature’s escape on video. Friday night a wild turkey flew out of that same thicket, and very angrily let me know I was intruding on his turf. I really wish I would have gotten that one on video! What kind of critter will be next?
I caught myself smiling as I continued to walk. What was I thinking? “God is great! God is good, all the time!” It amazes me at how intricately God created each thing on this earth, including the human eye so we can visually see his creations. If life on Earth is this beautiful and perfect what is Heaven like? How many other colors of beauty are there? I wondered why he decided dandelions should be yellow, how he devised the process of pollination, and how he chose the seasons that all things partake in. Yes it was getting pretty deep! 🙂 It just absolutely astounds me how God designed everything with the perfect plan and purpose. When was the last time you thanked God for his amazing creations? For the gift of sight? For walking with you daily, protecting you from harm?
Spring…when nature comes to life, sprouting all around us. To some it may mean itchy, watery eyes and constant sneezing…the dreaded allergy season. For others it may be the end of winter hibernation. To me it’s a reminder to stop and appreciate the gift of life we receive each day. Not a single second on this earth is guaranteed, yet we are all guilty of running through life and at times sprinting from one thing to another just to do it all over again the next day. Have you ever stopped and looked at yourself when doing this? I have and honestly it’s not a pretty sight.
These beautiful images were photographed in our front yard, next to the driveway that greets everyone who visits. Even though I drive past these trees each day, I’ve been so distracted by the craziness of life that tonight was the first time they caught my attention. How could I not notice them?
The 70 degree weather this weekend had everyone outside enjoying the warmth, including the farm animals. In the past 2 weeks 17 calves were born. So needless to say there was a lot of cuteness roaming around the barn lot.
And I just couldn’t resist trying to touch them. This little guy is only 3 days old and the cutest, friendliest thing I’ve ever seen! He walked right up to me and just started sucking on my finger!
Here’s a few more videos and photos of the newborns on Bense Farms.
I can’t wait to get a video of all the calves kicking up their heels! 🙂 Until next time…everyone have a fabulous Sunday!
There’s nothing like walking into the cattle barn, and watching newborn calves take their first steps or the rambunctious ones learning how to run. Bense Farms welcomed the first calf of the year on Monday, followed by 5 others – two of which were born today. Ironically, the two mothers who gave birth today, shared the special delivery day last year too.
Soon after being born, my dad places a tag in each calf’s ear so he can keep track of which calf belongs to who. I was able to get a short video clip of the little guy getting his first piercing. The farm life is definitely far from boring! 🙂