Friday, November 30, 2012

A cross to bear

I started reading "In God's Underground," by Richard Wurmbrand, at the suggestion of my parents. And so far, it's been a very interesting story of Wurmbrand, who was a pastor arrested in Romania during the communist regime.

I'm not very far into the book, because my mom said that at some parts it gets difficult to even read about the hardship that he endures. I have read some harrowing tales of torture so far, but I'm not even a quarter of the way through.

However, one sentence has stuck with me so far. Wurmbrand wrote that when life was going well, he and his wife prayed for a cross to bear. They wanted something to test their faith. Then he was arrested.

I was kind of shocked and confused as to why Wurmbrand and his wife would ever ask God for a challenge. If he had blessed them with good times, even when bad was going on around them, why wouldn't they want to keep it that way? Shouldn't they have been thankful for what they were given and not complained that they weren't being tested enough?

To me, it's almost like a slap in the face of God.

As I read, I understand more about what Wurmbrand and his wife were asking for. It's not that they wanted hard times. However, they realized that sometimes God reveals himself the most and that we can have the greatest relationship with him during those trials. Wurmbrand said that Christians can be sure that their actually believers when their faith is tested.

Although I understand his intentions, I'm still not sure about praying for a test. My life is going really well right now, and I think I would be terrified to ask God for a cross to bear.

But maybe that's just because I don't know if I would be able to handle it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We get what we give

I read a story on Fox News today about a woman who left her $12.5 million estate to her neighbor, just because the neighbor was nice to her.

The article said that older woman thought her family just wanted her money, but the neighbor bought groceries and helped with household chores. Normally, those simple actions wouldn't involve much, if any, money. However, the kind person received a wonderful reward just for being nice.


I read a book that said we should never forego an impulse to be generous. Sometimes I get impulses at weird times, and I don't always follow through because it just seems weird. Sometimes I offer and people reject, but I think that God expects us to at least offer ourselves as servants to others. The outcome is in his hands, but we will never know what blessings could come of something if we don't at least offer to help out.

This is the perfect season to think about giving. Hopefully it then leads to a habit that will last all year round.

During Christmas, gifts shouldn't be stressful. They should be a time that we can get excited about being blessings to someone else.

What we celebrate at Christmas is the fact that God gave Earth the greatest blessing, his son. He wanted to bless people and knew that this was the only way to give people a relationship with himself.

If God can give up his own son for people who rebel against him and even hate him, why can't we give a little something too? You never know what you'll receive in return.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A little bit of Christmas

Nate and I had a beautiful day yesterday, getting ready for the Christmas season and just spending some time together.

We don't have as much set time together as some couples, because we work opposite shifts, and he only has weekends off every other month. However, it makes the time that we do have together even more precious, so that was why yesterday was so enjoyable.

We went to church and then made some coffee and packed up Novie to head to a local Christmas tree farm to pick out our first tree. We decided this year to get a real tree and then decide if we wanted to continue that each year or get an artificial tree after this.

We went to the tree farm about 15 miles south of where we live and started walking around. Luckily, our tastes matched pretty well, and we decided on a white pine with soft needles that was full and about 6 feet tall.

We attached the tree to the top of our Dodge Journey and headed back home to a waiting tree stand I had picked up at a secondhand store for $2. We put the tree in the stand and tightened the screws, to find that every time we let the tree go it tilted horribly to one side.

A trip to a local hardware store and we came home with a new $15 tree stand that ended up holding our Christmas tree more securely.

We put lights on the tree, ended up with too much left at the top, unwound the lights off the tree, put them back on the tree and set it in place. Then we covered it with the few ornaments that we have - a few we have purchased and many from my childhood that my mom gave us.

While Nate took some of the white lights we have leftover from our wedding and put them on the porch outside, I got all my snowmen and other wintry decorations out and put them around our duplex. We munched on some homemade gingerbread cookies that we had decorated the night before and surveyed our work.

We capped the night off with dinner at a local restaurant, which was free thanks to gift cards, watching "Bad Boys II," and reading some of the Bible together.

It was a perfect date day with the man I love. And now we're ready for the Christmas season to be here!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful to

Listening to the sermon this morning, I'm going to close my thankful series with a simple thought.

Everything I'm thankful for goes back to God. I'm thankful to him for everything i have and everything I don't have. Everything in my life is because of God. And I'm thankful to him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 11: Funny moments

I'm thankful for the little parts of life that make me laugh - like this video that Nate showed me! Hopefully it will make you laugh too!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 10: Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, because it makes us all think about what we're thankful for!

T alents
H ome
A ccomplishments
N athan
K in
S urprises
G od
I n-laws
V acations
I maginations
N oveske
G roceries

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 9: Good sermons

It's a little different when your pastor walks out dressed in what appears to be a large burlap sack.

It caught the attention of the audience when pastor Kurt dressed up in what we assume to be the clothes of a beggar in Jerusalem during Jesus' time.

He talked in first person, acting like the blind beggar, a man who did the only thing he could to bring money for his family.

Then the man heard about Jesus and his miracles. And the great rabbi showed up in Jerusalem, where the beggar sat.

"Jesus was going to pass down the road, right by me."

But there were too many people that Jesus shouldn't notice him. However when he and his disciples passed, the disciples asked why the beggar was born blind, was it his or his parents' sin?

Jesus said it was neither, the man was born blind so Jesus' glory could be shown.

"God was going to use my blindness? God was going to use my life? I was born blind on purpose?"

Jesus rubbed mud in his eyes and told the man to go wash.

"That was an embarrassing moment for a blind man. First, I was blind and now I had mud on my face," the pastor said.

However, the beggar trusted, even as people laughed. And he washed.

"Then it happened. Light just burst into my eyes."

The world was more than the beggar could have ever imagined. The man who led him there was also amazed as he witnessed the miracle of the blind man's healing.

The healing created a controversy, as the healing came on the Sabbath when people are not supposed to work. It was like the religious leaders were blind to the evidence of Jesus' glory.

Just like today, some people's eyes are opened to the glory of God and some are blind to who he is.

It's interesting to here a sermon from first person rather than a reading verbatim from the Bible. It would appeal to a whole new genre of people who love stories and find sermons and lectures boring. And that's what a good pastor does, appeal to all people so God's message reaches everyone. That's why I'm thankful for good pastors and good sermons.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 8: Thankfulness

I'm a few days behind with busy life making me forget to update the blog! So today, I think I'll just do a list of some of the thankful thoughts I had lately.

1. I'm thankful for a new home that really feels like home. I didn't attend the local school district, and I don't have any kids who go there. But for some reason I still feel proud when it does well in sports, because this place is finally home.

2. I am thankful that I have so much good in my life that I can just keep on naming stuff I'm thankful for. Some people might struggle thinking of things to be thankful for, but thankfulness just overflows from me.

3. I'm thankful for cars. It's so nice to be able to easily visit people, even when you don't live in the same town. If I lived six hours away from my parents in the prairie times, we might see each other once every five years. Now, it's easy to make a weekend trip. They get to visit for Thanksgiving, and that's exciting!

4. I'm thankful for grocery stores. I love that I can cook from scratch but I don't have to grow everything from seed. Someone has done at least part of the work for me!

5. To go along with that, I'm thankful I can cook and enjoy it. I love that this is something I can do for my husband. I have my mom to thank for setting a good example of what it means to provide for your family joyfully by working at home and for teaching me how to cook so I can expound upon that as I get older.

6. I'm thankful for changing seasons. Although I often complain about it being too cold outside in the winter, I really do like to experience the changing seasons that some people don't get. I can't imagine a Christmas without it being snowy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 7: Sleep

Someone posted on Facebook this morning that they were thankful for a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in and the ability to get up from that bed in the morning.

I've admitted before that I love sleep, maybe even a little too much. I am cold quite often, and when I finally get warm in bed, it's hard for me to get out of it. However, I am also thankful that I am healthy and able to get up each day.

I am also thankful not only for the bed I sleep in but for sleep itself. I have another Facebook friend that suffered from breast cancer, at my age. She posted quite often in the middle of the night as she suffered from insomnia, sleeping it appeared only an hour or two per night, if at all.

There have been very few times in my life that I wanted to sleep and couldn't. Most often, I want to stay awake and end up falling asleep on the couch. I can sleep almost anywhere, from cars to planes to couches to floors. If I close my eyes long enough, I can probably fall asleep.

Not being able to sleep is awful. It's something that you know your body needs to survive, and you feel miserable without enough of it. Yet, the physical inability to provide yourself with that need would be horrible, especially for a long period of time.

So, simple as it is, I am thankful for the ability to go to sleep each night and to sleep restfully once I fall into slumberland.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 6: Spontaneity

Nate has taught me a lot about spontaneity.

Growing up, I would say I was the opposite of spontaneous. I had a plan for everything, from my day to my week to my whole life. I knew what was going to happen at each moment - at least I thought I did.

When opportunities for activities came up at the last minute I would often say no, because it was not in my plans.

Since I've known him, Nate has been the opposite of a planner. He's been quite spontaneous and really wouldn't plan anything unless I forced him to. We've both rubbed off on each other, I think, with him planning more and me being more spontaneous.

I was thankful for this change in my personality tonight when the opportunity came up for me to get tazed with my friend Kathleen. Yes, tazed.

We've talked about experiencing this since for quite a while, but it hasn't worked out. She texted me tonight and told me she was going to do it during a Youth Academy class at the police department. However, she was nervous and asked me to do it with her.

The class was already running.

But I dropped what I was doing and decided to go for it.

I got there, went first so I didn't see anyone else's reaction to scare me off, felt the electrical energy run through me as my muscled stiffened unintentionally and shook off the crazed feeling.

I'm really proud of myself that I tried something knew and was spontaneous enough to go for it at the last minute.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 5: Colorful kitchen utensils

If you can't tell yet, I'm going for a thankful list of more obscure items. I am very thankful for my wonderful parents, my brother and siblings-in-law, my beautiful nieces, my warm home, my car, my job, etc. However, sometimes it's good to think beyond what we're say we're thankful for every year and to see all the little blessings in life.

I love color. I used to laugh at my mom that every room in our home growing up, except for the paneled ones, were either off-white, beige or taupe. I have always dreamed of being able to paint my walls, even though I still haven't quite had that chance.

However, for our wedding people obviously know me well enough to know I like color. We have a beautiful set of colorful ceramic bowls in all different sizes, and we even got colorful spatulas, cutting boards, a can opener, knives and a pizza cutter. For a couple other birthday gifts from my best friend, I have a set of colorful, stackable mugs and colorful chopsticks.

I have to say, when I cook, I purposefully use my colorful stuff. Those little items actually bring happiness to my days. They are so fun and bright, and I have no idea why I like them so much, but I do!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 4: Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Oh how I love this verse and all that it stands for.

So, we decided to stay here and to look for a house. One, dealing with large amounts of money and debt makes me nervous. Two, we only have until May when our lease is up and we have to move anyway.

I start thinking about all the factors: How much should we spend? Will we find the right house at the right price at the right time? What if we find what we want and it sells? What if we can't find the right place before we have to move?

It sounds like I just like to think of all the bad, but those are the things that pop into my mind.

However, then I remember that God is in control. He knows the right house for us and will help us get it at the right time and in the right place, even if it's not when or where we expect it to be. All I have to do is pray about it and place it thankfully in his hands.

I don't even have to worry. And for that, I'm thankful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 3: Sunshine

It has been a dreary couple of days here. Although with Superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast, I'm sure that it's been a bit drearier there!

Dreary days make me sleepy and unmotivated most of the time. In fact, I will admit that I slept most of Sunday away, even with daylight savings time starting. We even accidentally slept through church when Nate's alarm didn't go off.

Although I am kind of a fan of the dark, I like sunny days. Somehow the world just seems brighter - OK, that's kind of obvious. Sunshine is warm and comforting and makes me more motivated to get going on what I have to do.

I guess there's a reason that the song "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day," came about. I'll change it to my own chant - "Sun, sun, you're so fun. Come and shine so I get things done!"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 2: Puppy cuddles

Our olde English bulldog loves to cuddle.

She weighs about 55-60 pounds, but she doesn’t realize that she is that large. She isn’t that tall, she’s just really dense and wide. Nate has come to the conclusion that if we were as dense as she is that we would weigh a lot more, so she thinks that we weigh a lot more so she doesn’t realize that sitting on us is uncomfortable, which sometimes it is.

However, most of the time I don’t find her cuddles uncomfortable. I kind of love it when we are in bed, and she comes to lay by me and puts her head in the crook of my neck to use it as a pillow. Her soft neck folds keep me warm and make me feel secure.

When I woke up this morning and she was curled up next to me, which is comfortable until she lays on my hair or paws me in the face as she stretches out, I thought about how odd it is that I love it when my dogs lays on me. Nate shoves her away when she takes over his space. I know that my mom wouldn’t tolerate it for a second - she won’t even let her dog in the bed with her and my dad. People probably think that I’m spoiling Novie too much that I let her get away with laying on top of me.

I got a dog, because I wanted something to cuddle with. I wanted her to sleep in bed with me, lay on my legs and keep me warm. I like the thought of a cuddly, warm puppy sleeping next to me with her puppy smell.

So yes, weird as it may sound to some people, I’m really thankful for puppy cuddles.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 1: My husband

On Facebook, it looks like people are taking the challenge to say what they're thankful for each day this month. I thought I would take that direction with my blog this month of giving thanks, even though I'm a day late!

Day 1: My husband

How can I not start out this year by saying that I am so thankful for my husband.

My husband ... oh how I love to say those words. And I love it when he calls me his wife. The other night when he was gone, it made my entire day when he texted me and said that he hates being away from his wife.

Sometimes I can almost not believe that it's finally happened. I dreamed of spending the rest of my life with him, and I always thought I would. But I love now having the security of knowing that each day we have, we have together.

The beautiful rings on my left hand are still a reminder that I am loved by the most wonderful man.

I'm thankful for so much about him. He is brave and courageous - I never have to worry about being safe when he's around. He's generous. He's curious. He is a wonderful friend, not only to me but to all of his friends. He's hilarious and has the most wonderful laugh and smile that completely disarm me. He treats me well and can (almost) always snap me out of a bad mood.

I love to see him grow in his faith, and some of my favorite moments are when we pray together or read the Bible together. I enjoy watching him as he plays with our puppy and know that he's going to be an even better father to our children that hopefully God blesses us with someday.

He's smart, wise, loving, fun, friendly, outgoing, handsome. I could go on and on.

I'm thankful that God has blessed me with a man that truly does complete me, and I love him with all my heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Loving love

Weddings are really important to women.

I'm generalizing here, but most little girls look forward to their wedding day from the moment they understand what a wedding day is.

Before Nate and I got engaged and married, I had a hard time watching shows about weddings and attending weddings. They were always beautiful occasions, and I was happy for the couples. However, I was often jealous that they were getting something that I wanted so much. My happiness was never quite complete.

I always told myself that I should be happy for them, and I did my best. It wasn't perfect though.

I don't think many men understand this. At least from what I've experienced with Nate, guys don't have quite the same feelings about weddings.

Now though, I love watching stuff about weddings and am excited to go to weddings. I am happy that others can share such a potent and powerful love like Nate and I have found. I was watching "Say Yes to the Dress" the other day when Nate laughed; he didn't think I would have any interest in that now that our wedding was over. It's really just the opposite though!

I love love, and I'm glad that God came up with the idea.