Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh what a wonderful day!

The thrill of finding a good deal, trying on clothes, eating some ribs for lunch - life is simple, and life is good.

I got to meet my parents halfway between our homes yesterday. We spent a day shopping and eating together. I even got some souvenirs from their trip to Jamaica.

Oh, what a wonderful day!

I love how when life starts out, you find your parents controlling and they are the authoritarians in your life. However, when you grow up, you get to be friends.

Sometimes, it's hard to find friends who are enough like you to spend a lot of time together. When your parents are your friends, you share enough experiences and personality traits that you can have lots of fun laughing together.

One way my mom and I are a lot alike is that we both love a good deal. I can't really shop with anyone except my mom, because we like to dig through racks and find shirts for $5 or less and purses for less than $10 and shoes for $2. (Those are some deals I got yesterday).

It's fun when you have the same ideas of what is cute and what is ugly, what is a good deal and what is not. However, my parents don't have children at home anymore, so they have a little more money to spend, so my mom actually tried on shirts that were $29. Crazy, to poor old me!

We spent some time cracking up while we tried to take a picture of ourself in the booth at the barbecue joint we ate lunch at. We finally got one shot where we all looked equally decent, even though it was not the best photo of any of us.

Time went fast. However, when you only get to see your parents once every couple months, you take what you can get.

Fun parents, fun times, fun day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Setting your mind

I'm going to stop talking about people.

I'm going to start eating better.

I'm going to wake up with the alarm.

"Look at that woman with the Big Gulp. I wonder where all her rolls came from..."

"My stomach is growling!"


It's really easy to decide something. It's really hard to follow through.

Setting your mind and keeping it set is one of the hardest parts of life for me.

I used to struggle a lot with making decisions - and to be honest I still do, although I think I have gotten better.

First, it would be hard for me to decide where to go or what to do. However, after I decided, I would constantly second guess my decisions. I would worry that what I decided I shouldn't have decided.

Today, although the first decision is hard for me to make, I have gotten much better at keeping it set with those decisions.

However, keeping my mind set in the smaller items - getting up on time in the morning, fixing my eating habits, living a life of balance - has been harder as my human weak nature wants to take over. I don't want to go through the hard times.

That's the hardest part about keeping your mind set - you can't give in to difficulty. And no one likes to live through difficulty. But, you have to get through some difficult times in order to be a strong and worthwhile human.

So try it out. Set your mind, and don't back down.

The most worthwhile is worth your while

In "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life," Joyce Meyer suggest prioritizing the different activities and people in your life so you know what to spend the most time on.

If I had to prioritize my life, I would say it would be:
1. God
2. Nathan
3. Family
4. Work
5. Friends

However, if you look at what I spend most of my time on, it would probably be:
1. Work
2. TV/movies
3. Nathan
4. Friends
5. Family
6. God

That's not how it should be. I mean, TV/movies are fun and relaxing and that is why I am drawn to that. However, I know I need to reprioritize and make sure that I am spending a little time with God each day. I have tried to add in Bible reading, but my quiet time of prayer has been difficult to fit in.

I just want to make sure that the people in my life are feeling treasured as well. Making people feel loved is the second most important part of life behind God, and I think it works in with spending time for God, as that is what he would want me to do.

Putting God first will not only make my spiritual life deeper, but learning more about him and growing closer to him will also help me make my relationships deeper by giving me patience, love, kindness and so much more that will make spending time with me more desirable to others.

I just have to remember, the most worthwhile parts of my life are really worth my while.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life is a piece of cake

I didn't come up with this, but I really enjoyed its lesson, so I thought I would pass it on!

Sometimes we wonder,

'What did I do to deserve this?' or
'Why did God have to do this to me
Here is a wonderful explanation!
A daughter is telling her mother how
is going wrong
, she's failing algebra, her boyfriend
broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.

Meanwhile, her mother is baking a cake and

asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the

daughter says, 'Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.'

'Here, have some cooking oil,' her mother offers.

'Yuck' says her daughter..

'How about a couple raw eggs?' 'Gross, Mom!'

'Would you like some flour then?
Or maybe baking soda?'

'Mom, those are all yucky!'

To which the mother replies:
'Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves.
But when they are put together in the

right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! '

God works the same way.

Life is not all sweets and desserts. Sometimes we get the protein and vegetables we need. Sometimes we get some bitter ingredients all by themselves.

However, God has his recipe all planned out. And instead of us error-ridden humans, God knows how it will all turn out. He doesn't worry that it will burn in the oven or overflow. He knows it will come out evenly golden and delicious - just the way he planned.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A comfy life

You can very quickly get too comfortable in a relationship. Whether it's a friendship or a love, comfortable is good, but too comfortable can be dangerous.

Too comfortable leads to disappointment and hurt.

I've been too comfortable in friendship - which often leads to making wise cracks that hurt people's feelings because I've forgotten that words might mean something different to something else than they mean to me.

I've been too comfortable in love - which can lead to hurt feelings when you forget to cherish the moments you have with your loved one. You forget to make someone feel treasured, because you don't think it matters anymore.

I've been too comfortable in my friendly/love relationship with God as well. I think that is what leads to a dry spell in your relationship with God, being so comfortable that you don't worry. I don't worry about spending time alone with God. I don't worry about pleasing him, because I figure I just have forgiveness.

Too comfortable on the couch leads to laziness and obesity. Too comfortable in the sun can lead to skin cancer. Too comfortable can often lead to results that are by no means comfortable.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Love and be loved

A man walks in with a bouquet of pink and yellow flowers, expecting his wife to ooh and awe over his thoughtfulness. She smiles and thanks him, but when he starts to play video games later, she gets upset that he isn't spending time with her.

He thought getting her flowers showed her his love, instead she expected his time to show her his love.

I learned a long time ago about something called love languages. Everyone loves people and feels loved in different ways.

According to author Gary Chapman, the five long languages are:

Words of Affirmation
  • Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
    Quality Time
  • In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  • Receiving Gifts

    Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  • Acts of Service

    Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

    This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Many people don't realize that they should show love in different ways to really get through to the people they care about.

According to a quiz on love languages, my long languages are ranked:
Words of affirmation
Quality time/touch (tied)
Acts of service

See what your love languages are at:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Land of Fiction

Clark and Marty Davis were once strangers but after being thrown together out of necessity, the pair found a soft, deep love.

Raising their family on the western Canada prairie, Clark and Marty encounter troubles, happy times and sad times. Their family grows as they take in the neighbors' children who need love, and their family gets smaller as their children grow up and move away.

I swear Clark and Marty are close friends of mine. Even though they're not real.

In fact, for those of you who don't know, Clark and Marty Davis are creations by Janette Oke. I first met them probably 10 years ago, and I have read their stories a number of times since that time.

Books are a wonderful part of everyday life. They take you into a world not your own. Like TV, you can experience what is happening in a different time and place with different people. However, with books, you can imagine the setting and characters for yourself.

With TV and movies, creative decisions regarding place and costumes have already been made by production teams. With books, you get some descriptive phrases, but you get to make a majority of the decisions yourself.

I picture everything that happens in a book in my head. Many times I picture a character and place and completely disagree with what the book designer decided to portray on the cover. "That doesn't look anything like them," I often say.

I refuse to even watch the Love Comes Softly movies, because I have such a set way that Clark and Marty Davis' lives have gone that I don't want to see someone else's take on it. I think that's why people often say the book that they read before seeing the movie is better.

The land of fiction is a wonderful place, and although real life is great, I often like to take a break to escape to a different place in my mind.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Put a Smile On

If you're a woman, you know what an "ugly" day is.

There are some days when you just don't think you look good.

Whenever I had one of those days growing up, my mom would always tell me the same thing - "Put a smile on, and no one will notice what you look like anyway."

I have also kept that in mind, and it could be why people called me Smiley Kiley growing up. I can't say I smile quite as much anymore, but I think it's because I ponder a little more than I used to. Also, I'm alone a lot more, so my smile muscles don't get used quite as much as when I'm out in public.

When I went to the interview for my job, one of my now-bosses commented that she had never seen someone smile so much.

I just love to smile. I think smiling makes not only you feel better, but it makes others feel good when they look at you. The best way to brighten a stranger's day is just to smile at them.

So, in a rendition of the classic song, "Smile. Smile a smile. Smile wide. Smile strong. Smile at good things, and bad. Smile 'cause you're happy, not sad. Smile, smile a smile. It's simple, to last your whole life long. Don't worry that it's not pretty enough for anyone else to see. Just smile, smile wide."

Just take it

"You look pretty today."

"Really? Ugh, I felt so ugly looking in the mirror this morning. My pants made my love handles plop out, and my hair was really flat, and I could not get my make-up to look right."

Have you ever had someone give you a compliment and then you just bash what they say with a variety of contradictions that leave them looking at you with a strained smile on their face?

I have.

I don't remember who told me, it was probably my mom, because she has always been the one to give me good tidbits of advice, but they said to accept compliments, not berate them by putting yourself down.

I don't know why it is sometimes hard to accept compliments - maybe because it's hard to see the good in ourselves, or maybe because we were raised not to brag. Some people might think that letting someone say something good about you means that you propping yourself up. However, that's not true. Accepting compliments means that you are accepting who you are, and the fact that others see something good in you.

Whenever someone compliments me, I try to say "thank you." It's always good to good to find a reason to compliment that person back too.

By the way, a woman once told my boss that it is impolite to say "No problem," when someone says thank you. She said you should always say "You're welcome." Now, her reasoning for this wasn't something I completely agreed with, but I do think it is good to get in the habit of saying "You're welcome."

So on your list of things to do, adding "Saying you're welcome," might not hurt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love, love, love

My friend Jack, who recently lost his wife, is celebrating Valentine’s Day today, just like everyone else. I told him that I hope he has special memories to think of and that is doesn’t hurt too much.

Valentine’s Day is meant to be a celebration of love — a day to remember your sweetheart, the one who makes your heart beat faster.

At least that is what most people say. My mom always celebrated Valentine’s Day with her children as well, giving us special treats to show us we were loved.

This holiday is depressing for a lot of people though — people who think they don’t have any love in their life to celebrate. I know plenty of people who might be hurting on this holiday — friends who just can’t find that special someone, family who lost their loved one to a disease, friends whose happy ending was spoiled by bad choices.

That’s why, today, as all you happy lovebirds cuddle and exchange adoring words, it’s important to think about those in our lives who maybe aren’t quite so happy.

First, don’t shove love in others’ faces.

I know I used to want to just cuddle up with Nate every moment he was around. However, sometimes when others were in the room he would pull back, not wanting to make others feel bad that they didn’t have such a relationship. Show love, yes. Rub it in, no.

Second, give them a little cheer.

Don’t make it obvious that you’re trying to cheer up someone who doesn’t have much to celebrate, but maybe leave a little note on someone’s door, send someone a card or give out chocolates. Everyone wants to be remembered today.

Finally, show someone you care.

Many might not have a lover to spend Valentine’s Day with, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t loved. Tell your friends and family that you love them. Even if it’s not the same kind of love, it’s still something to fill the heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

An ugly little bug

Like gnats in summer, an ugly little bug attacks all of us at some time or another.

Gnats tend to like some people more than others, and this ugly little bug also likes to attack some more than others.


The words, "I'm stressed out," come out of my mouth quite frequently.

I think I have seen Nate stressed twice since we have been together - in the past seven years. I can see each time perfectly clear.

I don't know why I get so stressed out so easily. I think it has to do with the fact that I am a planner and a slight perfectionist.

When I have a full slate at work, I am not comfortable until everything is done, and done early. I hate it when people don't call until the last minute. In fact, I can't wait until people call at the last minute. If I don't hear from someone, I will go on to another story and end up doing two if the first person does decide to call. I won't risk not getting my work done.

This week I had 12 stories to write (as well as photos to get) and a community guide to do. I told myself though that I wasn't going to get stressed out. I asked God to let everything go smoothly, and I decided to just take it one day at a time.

Guess what?

I got everything done, and everything done on time.

I was quite pleased with myself for not freaking out, and it made this week so much more enjoyable.

Stress is really just a symptom of worry. The Bible tells us not to worry, and it makes sense because we only worry about things that are beyond our control. If something is beyond our control, our worry doesn't do one thing except make us sick and stressed out.

Trusting God is really the only way to go - trusting God and taking your day one moment at a time.

I just hope the next time my plate is incredibly full I will remember this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happily ever after

I believe in happily ever after.

The prince and the princess, the castle, the fairy-tale ending - I believe it's real.

Life might look a little different than it does on Disney movies, but if you look really close and work hard, I think it can end up pretty close.

The divorce rate today is extremely high, a fact that I find terribly sad and disappointing. I think most of it comes down to selfishness, looking for your own happiness, instead of trying your best to make a life together.

However, if we start seeing love as a decision - choosing to stick with someone through thick and thin, even if it is not the most comfortable or effortless choice - I think we could fix relationships.

Even in fairy tales, the characters have to overcome troubles. Sleeping Beauty has a spell cast on her. Cinderella is forced to act like a slave. Belle has to see deeper than the appearance of her beast.

Yet, once they found love and decided to get past their problems, everything worked out.

If we started treating each other like princes and princesses, we would find happiness. If we saw our simple surroundings as a castle full of love, we would find happiness. If we saw life as a happily ever after that lasts forever, we would find happiness.

Like many parts of life, our situation is all how we view it. Do you see yourself as an ugly stepsister that is never going to get ahead, not matter how you try, or do you see yourself as a princess that only has to make the choice to see their life as a happily ever after?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bringing places closer together

Last night, four of my friends and I decided to start a Bible study together on Skype.

Skype has a new version that offers group video calling, so multiple people can see each other at the same time. It ended up costing $5, but when you hear what we did - you'll know if was worth it.

So, the five of us friends all live in different places throughout Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois. We haven't all been together since four of them graduated from college in May - what seems like forever ago.

We all got on Skype, which took a few minutes to coordinate, but finally the videos brought us all together. We could all talk, and except for some minor feedback, it was like we were all in the same room.

We picked up our laptops and gave tours of our apartments for those who hadn't seen them. We caught up on life - sharing funny moments, exciting plans, struggles and prayer requests.

We actually didn't make it to the Bible study portion, but it was the first time we have all talked in 10 months, so I don't think that was that bad.

Some of our significant others were around to see what it was like seeing all our faces on the computer screen, and all of us expressed awe.

Who would have thought that we could all be together, without being together.

I know I grew up with technology, and most of it is cool, but doesn't seem out of the ordinary. This was just plain neat. It's not the most expensive or outrageous technology, but it is one of the most special I have encountered.

Something changes when you get to see a person's face when you talk to them, and I for one, thoroughly enjoyed what technology gave us all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Endless love

"I love you more everyday
You show me love in every way
There's nothing left for me to say
But I love you."

Everything has a limit, except love.

I find it amazing that the longer I am with Nate, the more and more I fall in love with him. When you're in a relationship, you tell the other person that you love them with your whole heart. Somehow, the next day, the next month, the next year, your heart has filled with even more love for that person.

I hear it's the same way with children - you think you can't possibly have anymore love in your heart, but each time you have a child, you somehow have even more to give away.

How is it that love is endless? It's like space, time, God - we can't understand endless or infinite. But I know it's real, and I know that I wouldn't have love any other way than endless.

Monday, February 7, 2011

All kinds of wars

Do you ever feel like you're just battling constantly?

Thank goodness I'm not a soldier, because I think I create enough battles inside of me that I wouldn't need to fight outside.

I read in "Battlefield of the Mind" how sometimes when you wake up uneasy for no reason, it is a mind-binding spirit taking hold of you.

I often wake up uneasy or just feel like my heart is not right, and I can't really pinpoint the reason. I'm not angry with anyone, no one is angry with me, I'm not worried or scared. I just don't feel settled or at peace.

I can always tell when there is a spiritual battle going on inside of me. Right now, I can feel this battle going on for what I am going to spend my time at - walking with God or walking in the world.

I have never felt so self-centered with my choices and desires - not self-centered as in not paying attention or giving to other people, but self-centered in my obedience with God. I see ways to improve my life, and my first thought is "I don't want to" or "I don't want to give up what I like to do in order to make that happen."

After I think, I immediately realize that it is not the way to go or to think. However, my flesh is fighting my spirit intensely. I can feel it inside me like I can see it.

I find it interesting that your spirit is so much a part of you that you can literally feel what is happening - closeness with God, spiritual battles, inner peace. It is almost tangible.

At least when I'm battling, I know that improvement is in the future as long as I keep pressing on. There wouldn't be a battle if I wasn't going in the right direction.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A clean slate

"You know, all you have to do is say sorry. Start again. Give each other a clean slate."

Watching "Lost," Kate said these couple of phrases to Sawyer - who responded with a gruff "I ain't got nothing to be sorry for," which broke up the tender moment.

Saying sorry has never been hard for me - in fact, I probably say I'm sorry too much. However, I think many people struggle with saying these two words. People do not want to admit when they are wrong; I guess it is a pride issue.

Doing something wrong and not admitting it can be one of the worst things ever for any kind of relationship - friends, family, schoolmates, etc.

Most people are really willing to forgive each other, if they admit that they shouldn't have done what they did.

Forgiving also means overcoming pride though. Holding onto a grudge is the same thing as someone not saying their sorry.

A clean slate might never really exist, as even chalk leaves behind smudges. However, when apologies and forgiveness work together, actions can be overcome.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Second - and third, and fourth - chances

I was reading in Luke last night about the story of a tree that wasn't producing fruit. The owner of the tree was told to cut it down, since it had been three years since it produced.

However, the owner said to give it another year. He would fertilize it and see if it produced. If not, then it could be cut down.

Just like this farmer, God gives us lots of chances. Even when others have given up on us, he still has faith. He can make us grow again with some fertilizer and patience.

Goodness knows, I need a lot of chances. Everyone does. We all struggle with different things - it could be one-time sin, it could be with failing with repetitive temptation.

Like the other story where Jesus tells Peter to forgive his neighbor 70x7 times, God also forgives us innumerable times. He doesn't give up on those he loves/

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ewwww, snakes

I was watching "Southland" on TV tonight, and one of the calls was for a large boa constrictor killing someone's dog.

I saw the long, thin body curling underneath a California porch, and I immediately looked away as I felt my face scrunch up in disgust.

I don't know when my fear and hate of snakes began. I remember touching a garter snake in preschool, but I don't remember my bad thoughts developing against them.

All I know, is when I worked at the library in high school, I couldn't even shelve books on snakes unless I only held the binding, because I couldn't touch the pictures of them. It just freaks me out.

Nate has tried to get me to get over the irrational fear I have. I have looked at snakes in cages while standing behind him for protection. However, my heart starts beating faster; I can't stand still; my eyes start to tear up a little bit.

How many things in our lives do we hate for no real reason. Where did our hatred of having to go to work come from? Why is cleaning seen as horrible? Why is cold weather annoying to pretty much everybody, even the people who choose to live in areas where they know it's going to happen?

We gripe and complain; we fear; we worry. However, do we ever stand back and think about why we do those things? Why do make ourselves miserable?

Not that I can tell you how I can ever get rid of my fear of snakes, but maybe if I start to think about it, I'll realize I have no real reason for it.

No reason, that is, except for the fact that they have no legs and icky, little tongues.