Thursday, June 30, 2011

A day off

As you might have noticed - or might not have, I could be overestimating how often people read this :) - I didn't blog yesterday.

It wasn't that I forgot since it was the middle of the week, I just wasn't at home or within range of wireless internet or even a cell phone signal.

I was trout fishing!

Nate and I met his parents and grandparents at a remote cabin - well, they call it a cabin but with sleeping room for 12, a foosball table and a dishwasher in the kitchen it was more a house made of logs than a cabin.

I got the "trout stamp" on my fishing license the night before, although I have to admit I wasn't sure how excited I was about this whole trout fishing thing. I haven't really been a fisher, other than one kids' fishing derby a year while I was growing up.

However, I strapped on a pair of waders that were way to big for me and set off with Nate, his dad and his grandpa to see what I could draw out of a nearby river.

After Nate reminded me how to cast again, he told me what to do if I caught a fish - grab it by its mouth, remove the hook and string it through its gills. Sounds a little daunting when you've never even touched a fish before though.

When Nate's dad caught a fish, he brought it over and let me touch - interesting and slimy. Then he had me grab it by the mouth so I would know what to do when I caught my own. When I stuck my thumb in the little sucker's mouth, he bit down.

I yanked my hand away in surprise, but you could hardly even call it a bite, because there was no pressure at all. The feeling of the trout's upper lip touching my thumb just made me shriek a little - yes I am a wienie, or a delicate flower as Nate called me :)

Well, I can sum up the day for me - I caught a wide arrange of flora, got stuck on rocks several times, caught Nate's grandpa's lure and caught a rock. Yes, I somehow actually hooked a rock and pulled it out of the water. No fish for me!

However, it was nice just to have a day off. In the middle of the week, it was nice to relax in a beautiful setting and enjoy some down time. We got to have fresh trout, meet his parent's new dog and just chat a little.

I enjoyed trout fishing and think I would go again. And I definitely enjoyed a day off. I think it came just at the right time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Israel wants a king

Another lesson from my reading in Samuel, which you can see that I haven't been too consistent about lately.

However, every time I read it I find an applicable lesson that goes far beyond the story - something that I never realized was in there before. I thought Samuel was all about the storyline, not about something that we can really use today.

Last night in my reading, the people of Israel started begging Samuel to provide them with a king. They already had a king - God - but they had turned their backs and decided they wanted someone to rule over them.

Samuel told them all the terrible things that would happen if they were granted their wish, but they still wanted a king.

Their reason?

They wanted to be like everyone else.

Every other country had a king, and I guess the Israelites were jealous - jealous that they were so free.

I do that a lot too. I am so free in Christ, but I don't realize it. I just want to be like everyone else. No matter the cost I want something else.

How often do those extra things that we want end up putting us under bondage?

It's so much better to let God be our king, but in the moment it seems so much better to just be like everyone else.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's the little things

Tonight, after work, I called my dad because I had some great news to share with him.

There were free ribs in town!

For those of you who don't know, I love barbecue ribs. Pretty much anytime I go to a barbecue restaurant, I get the ribs. I could eat them once a week.

And every time, I eat ribs, I get a big smile on my face. There is something about the delectable morsels and the way you have to gnaw them off the bone that makes me a happy girl.

Most of the time, I am very happy that I have a longtime boyfriend, because I don't have to worry about being proper while eating one of my favorite messy foods.

My dad and I both love ribs. There is a rib shack back home that we like to go out to, just the two of us. We have baked beans, ribs, fries and lots of Wonder bread covered in melted butter. It's so good, and a great time to bond. We love just chatting, licking our fingers and laughing at how messy we are.

Tonight, there was a rib contest in the town that I work. I wasn't going to go, because I figured it would cost to get in, and I didn't feel like spending money. However, I learned it was free, and it was one of my favorite foods so I had to go.

I stopped by to sample a rib from one of my co-workers, which ended up being my favorite. Then I grabbed a few other ribs from other stations and walked back to my car while munching on my pre-dinner treat.

I'll tell you what, it sure made me happy.

It's little things like enjoying a plate of ribs, even if you don't have anyone to enjoy them with that make you happy. However, getting to call my dad and let him know about the festival made me even happier, because I had someone to share my joy with, someone who I knew would appreciate such an event as much as I did.

It's a little thing, but having a plate of ribs kind of made my day. And surprisingly enough, I don't even think I would ruin them with cheese sauce :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's all how you look at it

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this story before, but it popped into my head, so I wanted to bring it up in case I hadn't.

There was a group of couples out to dinner one night. They women will talking about all the annoying things their husbands would do, and the men were discussing how frustrating their wives could be.

One couple stayed quite through most of the conversation, drawing the attention of the other complainers.

The complainers asked this one couple what they found annoying about each other.

The husband and wife looked at each other with questioning glances and answered that they honestly didn't know.

"We don't think about what annoys us, we try to concentrate on the positive things about each other."


I think this would make for the absolutely best marriage.

You know when I am most unhappy? When I start picking apart everything Nate does and dwell on those little facts that are just not quite perfect (when honestly, who am I to talk about being perfect?)

How much happier would we all be if we immediately stopped thinking about what our loved ones are doing wrong and concentrated instead of what they are doing write and how blessed we are to have them in our lives.

Today, try to stop and realize when you are complaining - even if it's in your mind - and concentrate on the positives instead. See where it takes you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy birthday!

I love birthdays!

I'm pretty sure I have more fun making birthdays special for people I love than I do on my own birthday.

Growing up birthdays were precious days - we got to use special plates, our rooms were decorated, we had magnets writing out happy birthday on the refrigerator door, plus we got cake and presents and either a party or a trip to an amusement park.

Nate says that birthdays and holidays are just like any other day, but I love to try to make them special for him anyway.

Today, I used alphabet letters and wrote out happy birthday on the fridge. I made an apple pie just for him, because he isn't a fan of cake. I gave him a couple big presents and then have been presenting him a smaller one every hour on the hour.

You see, birthdays might not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal. Twenty-five years ago today, Nate was born. How can that not be a special day?

Maybe Nate doesn't see it as a big deal, because he doesn't want people making a fuss over him. He is one of those people that loves others and doesn't need to be the focus of gift-giving or gussying. He enjoys just being with others and trying to make times fun for them.

Nate is also extremely generous, not asking people to give him things like presents. He always pays for things for other people - for dinner or movies. He sometimes lets me pay for things, but he never asks me to. I have always admired that about him.

Today is a special day. This is a day that should be celebrated. I also celebrate the one behind the day. I'm so thankful that God decided to create Nate and that God decided to bring us together. It's awesome that long before 25 years plus nine months ago, God had everything already planned out to a T. He knew exactly who Nate would be, what he would do and why he was placed on Earth.

So yet again, a reason why birthdays are special - people are special!

Nate, you are a really wonderful guy. You have amazing qualities, and you're really special - and don't turn that around to make it sound bad :)

So happy birthday! I hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friends and fun

A few friends of ours are visiting. They were supposed to come for a golf tournament, but lots of rain has made the golf courses into more of a creek than a course, so it was canceled.

Instead, we decided to just hang out at my apartment. We invited a few other people over too, so we ended up with nine people filling up my tiny little living room.

We talked, laughed, listened to music, danced - it was just a lot of fun hanging out.

We didn't play any games or go anywhere, all we did was just spend time together.

I think a lot of times when we are trying to think of something to do on an empty night, we try to think of activities - going to a movie, going out to dinner, attending a concert.

Really, all you need are good friends to have a good time. Life is so much simpler than we sometimes make it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seeing those riptide signs

When we are out-of-town together on a Sunday, my parents and I usually do “church” in the hotel room.

Staying at the Country Inn & Suites (we decided our plain Jane room was the country part of the inn rather than the suite part) after a friend’s wedding, we held our service on the beds in the room yesterday morning.

We started reading in Philippians 1, some verses that my dad found, but our conversation reached much further than that. We talked how to become doers instead of hearers, how we take advantage of God’s grace, how we do what we want to do even when we know it’s not necessarily what God wants us to do.

One of the sections of the conversation, my mom relayed a metaphor she heard about people who grow up as Christians, like me. It’s like we’re sitting on a beach, and we see a sign for a riptide. We are saved from the riptide - accepting Jesus - but we never actually get caught in the riptide, so sometimes we don’t really know what we are saved from.

However, I looked at that from my perspective and kind of went on from there.

I have sat on that sunny beach of salvation for a long time. The signs warning against the riptides are still around me, but I have gotten comfortable there. I don’t really read the signs very often or worry about what they say.

After a while, I started to take a look at that water and see how fun it looked. I walked slowly down the beach and started to dabble my toes in the water.

As I’ve gotten used to seeing the riptide signs, I haven’t even thought about them as I wade in the water.

I think a lot of Christian youths have trouble with getting comfortable with a message they are so used to growing up. We believe in the Gospel and have taken Jesus as our Savior, but sometimes we get used to the beach and stop thinking about what we have been saved from.

It was an interesting analogy that I think could be taken many different ways.

I appreciated talking through a lot of things with my parents. They are both very wise from their years walking with the Lord, and they are a great blessing in my life.

It was also nice to be with my dad on Father's Day. He is a wonderful father, the best there ever was. Love you dad :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hope for the future

I'm sure it's just my age, but there's a whole lot of talk about marriage around me.

Whether it's the fact that Nate and I aren't married yet, celebrating friends who are getting married, talking about upcoming weddings, worrying about friends who shouldn't be getting married, discussing why some friends have gotten divorces - marriage is an ever-present topic.

At our age, the usual step in relationships is to make that commitment and decide to get married. Some people look forward to the wedding day, some people look forward to the lifetime commitment, some people just think it's the right time so they pop the question.

Whatever the reason, marriages are full of hope at the beginning. There is love sparkling in people's eyes. There are thoughts of future moments like having a baby or buying a first home.

However, some people don't realize what it means to get married. I obviously am not an expert on the subject, since I am not married or engaged, but after dating for seven years I think I have a good idea what makes a relationship work.

Some people think you can change the other person once you get married, that problems will go away, that love will conquer all.

Not one of those ideas is true. Whoever you choose to marry is the person you will be with for better and for worse. Problems will only compound as you have to work everything out as a couple. Love will not solve every problem.

Love is a choice; it's something you have to decide to do every day, even those days when you're so frustrated with the other person that you just want to scream or cry into your pillows. Love is a choice to work things out with the other person, no matter what.

However, at the beginning of a marriage, everything seems bright and cheery. I hope that for all my friends that are getting married, that they will enjoy these perfect times. I hope that these perfect times last a long time, and that they will stay strong when situations become not-so-perfect.

The future has a lot of hope. If we keep our eyes on God, we have hope that everything will work out fine, because he is in control even in our earthly relationships.

As I think on the future, my thoughts are always on the man that I love. So whenever you read this, I love you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hearer vs. doer

I was struck in church on Sunday about the difference between the hearer and the doer.

A hearer knows all about the Bible, goes to church, reads Christian books, listens to Christian radio. Yet nothing ever changes.

A hearer is addicted to Christian warm fuzzies but doesn't want to do the sometimes painful weeding.

A hearer doesn't necessarily believe that God's law is good, that it is liberating.

A doer also knows all about the Bible, goes to church, reads Christian books, listens to Christian radio. Yet the doer puts what he learns into action.

A doer lets the Word of God confront him.

A doer knows they need a mirror every day, that they have reevaluate where they are at every single day.

The pastor said Christians often get comfortable when they encounter the Word every day. Sometimes they forget to put into practice what they learn.

Then I thought, Jesus is the Word. Do we really encounter him every day?

If I do, do I really notice? Do I hear and not listen? How do I become a doer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sticking together

At church on Sunday, I grabbed a new pair of jeans - which I got for $6 at Gap - to put on before the service.

I pulled off tags on the waistband and the side before slipping them on.

At church, a woman came up to me during one of the songs and introduced herself - adding that she had noticed I failed to take off the size sticker running down the thigh of my jeans.

I gratefully thanked her and pulled the sticker off, a little embarrassed and hoping no one else had seen it.

I've done the same thing before - telling a woman she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe, letting her know she has her skirt tucked into her pantyhose, pulling a hair dangling off her sweater.

As embarrassing as you might think it is to point it out, it's much more embarrassing to let them go through the rest of the day with something like that.

We all have to stick together!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It kind of hurts

This Saturday morning, I sat down in the living room after rolling out of bed.

Then I remembered I was supposed to receive “Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” from Netflix in the mail that day. Since the mail usually comes around 10 a.m. and it was quite a bit after that - it was Saturday after all - I went to get it.

Thankfully, the red envelope was in the mailbox, and I excitedly popped it into the XBox back in the living room. As the previews played, I made myself a quad-shot iced mocha then settled back to watch the third in the epic saga based on the books by C.S. Lewis.

I have read all of the “Chronicles of Narnia” books and have seen the first two movies. As scenes played on the TV, I remembered them from the book, but I didn’t remember how it ended until I got there in the film.

During the movie, Eustace Pevensie - the annoying cousin of the four children who star in the first two movies - gets changed into a dragon in Narnia. However, after he accepted his challenge and used it for good, Aslan changed him back.

Aslan scratched the sand in front of Eustace, which clawed away Eustace’s dragon scales.

At the end of the move, Edmund asked Eustace what it felt like when Aslan changed him from the dragon.

“No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it myself. Then came towards me. It sort of hurt, but it was a good pain, like when you pull a thorn from your foot,” Eustace explained.


I sat there, just in awe of the beauty of that statement. How easily does that compare to our lives? No matter how hard we want to change, we just can’t get past our thick, scaly sins without God. However, it’s not always easy to take that step forward and become who you want to become. It can hurt.

Yet, that hurt, that suffering that we have to follow God is a good hurt. It’s a hurt that brings us exactly where we want to be.

The movie had many other beautiful lessons, which I might share with you another day. In the meantime, I encourage you to watch all the series yourself!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Growing up

For work, I went to do interviews for a preview of a local children's theatre production. While there, the cast had rehearsal, so I stayed to get some photos.

I ended up staying for the entire show.

The show was a happy adaptation of the "12 Dancing Princesses" by the Brothers Grimm. The theatre company had only cast two actresses for princesses though, leaving room for many audience members to take part.

As ridiculous as some of the parts were, I found myself smiling and giggling.

I would have thought that I had grown out of children's theatre already. I'm sure most adults would think that.

However, children's theatres are successful ventures throughout the country. I'm sure it's not all children begging their parents to take them to see a live production but instead many parents encouraging their children to go.

There's something about fairytales and cheesy love stories that just never quite gets old, especially for women. However, this theatre company said even grown men still come, those who have been coming since they were young themselves.

Whether it's watching children's theatre, seeing a Disney cartoon, pulling out a coloring book or jumping off a diving board, I think we all love to occassionally act like a kid again.

And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Share in the suffering

As Christians, we are called to take up our crosses and suffer along with Jesus, whose suffering led to our redemption.

Growing up, I thought this suffering only meant I would face persecution for being a Christian.

I did face some people giggling at what I chose not to do, and I once had a boy ask me to take off my cross earrings because they offended him - which I refused to do.

As I've grown older, I've realized suffering for Jesus means we may suffer in a different way.

I was reading a devotional by Joyce Meyer today, and it kind of cleared up for me what suffering for our faith can mean - making choices that don't always feel good.

For those who aren't super strong in their faith, making choices that mean obeying God doesn't always feel good. We go against our fleshly wants and desires, and that hurts. We suffer fleshly for Godly choices.

I had never thought about this kind of suffering, a suffering that doesn't come from the exterior and other people but from within.

Thankfully, Meyer said hope remains. She said after obeying for a while, it actually becomes enjoyable to make those spiritual decisions.

We'll all face suffering for being Christians - whether its exterior or interior. Thankfully we have a perfect model to follow after.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's a matter of choice

I'm not a tough person.

In fact, I'm kind of a complainy person.

I try to catch myself at it, but sometimes I just like to complain.

Nate is not a complainer. I have to say I am always impressed by how he takes on his duties without complaining.

There are days that he has ended up working extremely long hours, and he just bucks up and does it.

My dad was a lot like that too. He never complained about working 60 hours every week. He just always did it.

When I have to put in a few overtime hours, the first thing I do is talk about how busy a week it is and how crazy it is at work. I might not phrase it as complaining, but that's in essence what it is.

Work is a part of life that we all have to deal with. It's a part of life. Everyone has to work at something - even those who don't come by their money honestly.

A lot of things in life, we just have to do. I've talked about how hard it is sometimes to do chores and other items on our to-do lists. Life is full of tasks that aren't a whole lot of fun.

I think it's a matter of choice. We can choose to hate what we do, or we can do it silently and realize there is a reason for it.

I am proud of Nate and the fact that he doesn't complain about what he has to do. That's something that I could definitely follow after.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

But why?

As I think about contentedness this week, I was continuing my reading in 1 Samuel.

Last night, I read a chapter about the Israelites being defeated by the Philistines. They Israelites were defeated, but they brought in the ark of the convenant, sure that God would help them.

Before I read the rest of the story, I was thinking, "We really should just bring God into our problems and they would all be solved."

Unfortunately, I kept reading and saw that the Israelites were killed by the thousands during the next battle, and the ark of the covenant was stolen.

What does that mean?

I guess it means that we are supposed to be content in every situation. I'm sure the Israelites did not see the good in such a slaughter, but God could have stopped it if he wanted.

We aren't supposed to ask but why? We are supposed to be content in everything. Not being content is like telling God that what he has provided is just not good enough for us. That means that your spouse is good enough, your friends are good enough, your job is good enough.

Whatever you're going through might be for now or it might be forever.

Whatever God has provided, he has provided for a reason.

Even if we don't understand, there's no buts about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bad habits

I have some really bad habits.
I bite my nails. I pick the skin around my fingers. I mess with my mascara. I have bad posture.

Those are just a few.

I know that none of it is good to do, and it definitely doesn’t make me look good. However, I am a fidgety person, and I don’t know what else to do with my hands.

I’ve tried breaking my bad habits time after time. I get better for a while and then I get stressed and go back to my bad habits. Then I get stuck in the same old circle.

I know that my nail-biting and finger picking makes my hands look bad, and I know that Nate wants me to stop, but it’s hard to give something up without a great reason for it. It’s not like it’s against the law or has harsh consequences, it just is a bad habit.

Why do we pick up bad habits? It’s something to do. It helps relieve stress. We see other people start and follow suit. After doing it for a while, we just get used to it and don’t know how to stop.

That happens with a lot of things in our lives. Little decisions tend to grow and become habits, even when we don’t realize it.

I was thinking today, why should I give up my bad habits? What will really hit home that will make me want to give them up? I tried thinking of how stopping this would glorify God - making me the best person I can be, etc. Nothing really stuck.

Through the years my mom has bribed me to get me to stop biting my nails. Nate has told me how much he wants me to stop picking my fingers. People have prodded me to stand up straight.

I try to do it for a variety of reasons, but then I give up.

I think I need more will power.

Maybe we all do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Content or comparing

Scrolling through Facebook these week, I saw at least four people I knew got married.

None of them were really close friends, so I didn't even know they were engaged until I saw people tagged in their wedding photos.

The first thing I do? I think about how I wish that were me.

When it comes to being married, maybe those people aren't even as happy as I am. I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world, and it's not that I just want to be married in general, I just cannot wait to marry him!

Nothing makes you less contented than comparing yourself to others. I know that I have a great life, but there's always something else that would make it better.

God provides us with so much in life, and yet when we compare what we have to what others have it is just never quite as good. Maybe their life is much worse than yours, but they have a boat like you want or that new car that you can't afford.

When I start comparing myself to others, it does nothing but make me feel bad - my body's not as nice as that girls, I'm paler than her, I'm not engaged yet like they are.

I've struggled with contentedness all my life. It seems like I can never just be in the place that I want to be. Even in work, my thoughts are rarely on what it is at hand, they are always on the busy week that is coming up next and had to prepare for that.

Comparing where I am in life to where someone else is a sure way to make any situation worse, because I'm not anyone else, I'm me. And I'm right where I am.

So maybe we all should just start comparing ourselves to each other and be content where we are.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


When Samuel was young, God called to him.

However, every time Samuel heard God's voice, he went to Eli thinking it was his caretaker that was calling to him instead.

How often do we mistake God's voice for that of another? We run this way and that way searching for who is calling to us, and all it does is make us confused.

Eli finally realized that it was God calling Samuel and told Samuel to go to bed and tell God he was listening. When Samuel finally stopped running around trying to figure out where the voice was coming from, God was able to reveal himself to Samuel.

Maybe we just need to stop running around and start staying still so God can reach us right where we are.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

1 Peter 1:22

Many years ago - at least it seems like it was a really long time ago - Nate gave me a photo frame with 1 Peter 1:22 on it and words taken from that passage, "Love deeply from the heart."

I used to sign all the cards and letters I wrote him with that Scripture.

Today I looked it up to see where it was from again, and I read the rest of the passage, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart" (NIV).

The New Living Translation reads, "You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart."

GOD's WORD translations says, "Love each other with a warm love that comes from the heart. After all, you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth. As a result you have a sincere love for each other."

It's interesting to look at the rest of a verse that you know well, or the verses surrounding a verse you have memorized.

There's more to loving deeply from the heart than just deciding to love. Knowing the truth about Christ and purifying yourself allows you to love people the way that you should. Our sinful nature often gets in the way of love, but purifying yourself helps you love in ways that you never imagined possible.