Friday, January 25, 2013

Peace in the midst of turmoil

I have a sick feeling in my stomach right now, and tears moistened my eyes.

I was flipping through Facebook for a minute when I saw that the mother of a girl I grew up going to youth group with died after years fighting breast cancer. It's horrible what she went through, although from what I could see from the far outside, she seemed to take it with a smile on her face most of the time.

What makes my heart break is that this girl in her early 20s no longer has a mother.

Her parents went through a hard divorce several years ago, and I don't know what relationship she has with her dad. I hope it's a strong one, because she'll need it at this time. But I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a mother.

When things like this happen, and even when nothing traumatic has gone on, I have often prayed that God would let my mom live to a ripe, old, healthy age. I have to say this prayer is for completely selfish reasons as well.

I need my mom. When I have worries, joyous news or even need advice on mundane things like cooking and taxes, the first person I usually call - after talking to Nate that is - is my mom. She is brilliant and wise, and I always know that I can trust her to either give me good advice or just listen while I talk or cry things out. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't pick up the phone and call her.

In fact, my parents recently went on vacation, and the week they were gone there were several times when I was going to call her and remembered that she was out of cell service range. A week! That poor girl that never again can pick up the phone to call her mom.

A verse I often lean on is "Do not worry 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 through Christ Jesus."

I love the fact that it says the peace of God transcends all understanding. When I pray for peace and comfort for this girl, I immediately think, "Yeah right, no one can have peace at a time like this." However, that is only true to how we understand life. God's peace transcends our understanding. He can give it to us when it doesn't seem like peace is possible.

My prayer today is that this girl, and all others that are going through hardship, will turn to God and receive the peace from him that will blow their minds, a peace they will never understand but never want to let go of.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What will fill these pages?

For Christmas, my parents gave me a leather-bound day planner.

The cover has the words to "Amazing Grace" imprinted in the leather, and each day has a Bible verse and short explanation written on the bottom of the page.

Today, as I was writing down what to do at work for the day, I started flipping through the blank pages that represented the rest of the year. Most of the pages are crisp and haven't been written on, although a few contain reminders of special days like anniversaries and birthdays.

One month I expect to have notes about when we move into our new house. Another one will hopefully contain trip plans. But really, I have no idea what will fill those pages. I don't know if the plans we have will work out, and I don't know if extra plans we haven't even thought of will end up marked down.

I know I have written about this before, but it's so interesting to think about. I have all the days to an entire year sitting in this planner before me, but I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I'll have to remember at the end of 2013 to go back through the planner and write down what really did end up on those pages.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That's what I call determination

I was working the other day when Nate goes, "Kiley, come here right now. Quietly."

I snuck into the living room, and he was standing at the sliding door in the back, laughing at something outside.

This squirrel was out there, on the bird feeder, trying to get the feed inside. He swung upside down. He sat on top of it. He grabbed a piece and then sat on the gazebo to eat it. He moved from side to side. He was determined to get the food inside that feeder, no matter how difficult it was.

Afterward, a friend who saw the photos said that he probably burned as many calories trying to get to the food as he did eating it.

I like to look outside and see this kind of determination. Oftentimes in our lives, humans don't have enough determination. When life gets a little difficult, instead of pushing through, we think "It's too hard" or "It must not be meant to be." Just because something isn't a piece of cake doesn't mean we're not supposed to do it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The importance of research

I think today we go along with stuff too quickly. We don't often take the time to think or learn.

During a Video chat with my friends the other week we started talking about how our generation has all this access to information via technology but we don't often use it unless we're looking for specific answers. We don't just research and study for general information. We often don't even research what we believe or advocate.

One thing that has brought this to my attention is the gun rights debate that's going on right now. Many people are for an assault weapons ban, when they don't know what those guns are. They don't know that these types of guns don't do any more harm than other types of currently legal weapons.

Also the features on these guns that are being banned are mainly just cosmetic features. A pistol grip for instance is just how you hold a gun. It has nothing to do with how it shoots. But it sounds scary, so they want to ban it.

I have watched several videos lately that have explained the misconceptions people have about the new gun legislation. People don't even know what they are supporting, they just see the president wants it and they go along with it.

I'm not even saying here that everyone should be pro gun. I'm saying that whatever you believe you should research it and educate yourself and know why you believe what you believe. I've held viewpoints that once I actually researched I realized there was a lot I hadn't known.

Whether its political views, religious beliefs or even societal roles, make sure you take advantage of all the GOOD information that is available to us all. Stand strong because you are certain not because you someone else has told you what to think.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prayer time

On Friday, I decided that on my way home from work I would challenge myself to spend the entire hour's drive home praying.

When I pray, it's usually a quick plea for help or a prayer for someone's needs. I haven't had a long prayer time in, well, quite a while.

Before going home, I figured that this would be a real challenge. I wouldn't have anything to listen to, and I didn't know what I was going to talk about for an entire hour. I thought it might be one of the longest drives home that I'd have.

However, I ended up going through my family and friends, praying about each person's needs and thanking God for the people he's brought into my life. I prayed about everything from divorce to health issues to faith struggles.

And the miles just melted away. I think I could have kept going for even longer.

It's such an amazing experience when you realize that you're talking to God - who's sitting on top of the universe. He has such big eyes and big hands, and his ears are just as large. I'm so thankful that God listens to what I have to say, and he not only listens but I know he'll take care of it. I can just pass everything off in to his hands.

What's interesting, too, is on Sunday the pastor preached about the need to schedule regular devotion and prayer time each day. It's one of those times that I think God is trying to impress upon me that it is something I really do need in my life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pastor to be sentenced for faith

Check out this article:

It goes back to what I was saying earlier this week. We have it so good in America.

I still am flabbergasted when I read articles like this about Christians being persecuted in other countries. This pastor in Iran is being sentenced on Monday - and they expect a death sentence - for a starting a home church in the country. Prosecutors said it compromised national security.

I pray that God will free this man, and that the country will crack under international pressure. However, it doesn't appear there is much hope.

It sounds like centuries ago when Christians were persecuted and put to death. It doesn't seem like this should be happening today. Although it is happening around the world, we just don't hear about it.

I am so blessed. Just a few minutes ago, I was thinking about how Nate's parents get to visit this weekend and can attend our church for the first time. It is a given that we can go and worship wherever, and whenever, we want. In many places, worshipping is scary and illegal.

Thank you Lord for our freedom here in America. I am working on a solo dance for my studio's dance recital this year, and it's to "God Bless the U.S.A." As much as I have to complain about, it really is the most wonderful place to live. I hope that God continues to bless the U.S.A. and that the country will seek after him even more.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Read the Bible in a year

We want to start reading the whole Bible, with a plan to read it in a year.

Since we got married, we've both wanted to do devotions, and we have read the Bible together a couple of times, but our schedules get in the way. It's not that we're overly busy - although we do seem to be coming and going a lot - we just have such opposite schedules that it's hard to do much on a regular basis.

I think it's important though to do daily devotions with your spouse, especially when you are first married. We need to get into a routine, because if we start now then hopefully it will last us the rest of our lives.

I think it might be good to start the plan in February, when Nate moves to the day shift at work and we will actually have nights together.

In the meantime, if you have any good Bible reading plans, send them our way!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It could be worse!

We can find a lot of stuff to complain about in the U.S. and the political atmosphere we have now.

I'm concerned about the president taking away the second amendment. I'm concerned that we are getting further and further in debt with no plans to cut back. I'm concerned That left and right are separated as far as the east is from the west.

I could go on. However, as I read "In God's Underground" and think about other places in the world that are much worse off than we, I am thankful.

I'm thankful that I live in a country that lets me go to church each Sunday. I'm thankful that I have a Bible at home and that I downloaded one to my phone. I'm thankful that I get to vote. I'm thankful that we have servicemen and women out there willing to fight for all that we have and all they believe in.

We should all pray for what's going wrong in the country, because God is still in charge and can set people in place to turn us around. And while we're talking to him we should all say thank you that we live in comfort and not in fear as Christians.

It could be worse!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rearview mirror

While driving, the rearview mirror is an important tool.

Every once in a while you need to glance back and see what is behind you. However, most of the time you are focused on looking out the windshield to prepare for what's ahead. Often, the two intertwine as looking behind you helps prepare you for what will happen up ahead.

It's similar to life, I thought as I was driving the other day. Now, it's not a perfect analogy, but in life we do have to take into consideration what's behind us. We can learn from what has happened in the past and use that as we move into the future.

Our past shouldn't slow us down though. If we look into the rearview mirror too long, taking our eyes off of what is up ahead, we might get into a car crash. The rearview mirror is a helpful tool, but it's not everything. Our pasts also aren't everything. We can't dwell on what's behind us and forget about what is ahead.

The past is important, but whether good or bad, we can do whatever we want in the future. The road is wide open, and it's up to us - and God, if we only trust him - where we go.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Babies growing up

Yesterday was the first birthday of our oldest niece, Adalyn - Nate's sister's daughter. Our youngest niece, Ella, will turn one in March.

It's been really interesting to see them grow and has already been a little lesson in how people are so different. Although we don't live by either of them and haven't spend anywhere near as much time with them as we would like, we still have seen plenty of differences.

Adalyn is a definite mama's girl. At our wedding, she was happy as long as Erin was around, but the moment Adalyn didn't see her mom she was upset! She started to walked about a month ago and now can get around quite easily by herself, maybe a little too easily. She likes to babble and smile and she has no teeth yet.

Ella has been Miss Independent for quite some time. She loves to be held, but she also likes to explore by herself. She loves both her parents but is pretty easy going with other people holding her as well, and she is one of the happiest babies I think I've ever seen. She can walk while holding onto something, and she already has two teeth.

They're almost the same age, and they're both our nieces, but they are so very different already. I guess I used to think that most babies were the same. They cried and cuddled and pooped. But they are so much more. They develop personalities so quickly.

God has such amazing creativity. How many people has he created since the start of the Earth? How many different faces, fingers, laughs and personalities has he seen? Yet, he never has made two people exactly alike - at least that we know of!

It's amazing that we have a creator that is so completely in charge that he can put the right baby's personality with the right parents. That even the right puppy goes to the right owners, which is all the experience I have in the "children" category.

God is so great. You can see it in the eye's of babes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"In God's Underground" comments

"In God's Underground" by Richard Wurmbrand has so many interesting subjects.

It makes me think that I need to know the Bible more and know more about the faith that I profess. For instance, he was in solitary confinement for three years, and what got him through was thinking about God and remembering Scripture. I'm afraid I would be at a loss if I didn't have a Bible there to read.

Wurmbrand was also able to get through to a lot of people, because he could argue theology. He knew Scripture but he also knew about Karl Marx, Martin Luther and others that he could quote to prove his arguments.

In one passage, he talks about having tuberculosis and being sick enough that doctors told him that he would survive two weeks. He lived 30 months in what was deemed the "death room" before becoming well.

He said, "Scores of men died, and their places were taken by others in the 30 months I lay in this room. But here is a remarkable fact. No one died an atheist."

He approached the topic of atheism different than many people would. He said many people entered the death room as unbelievers, but faced with their end they turned from that "belief."

"I saw their unbelief collapse, always, in the face of death. I have heard it said, 'If a cat crosses a bridge, it doesn't mean the bridge is sound; but if a train crosses, then it surely is.' So if a man calls himself an atheist as he sits with his wife over tea and cakes, that is no proof of atheism. A true conviction must survive enormous pressure, and atheism does not."

Christianity can survive the most oppressive opposition, but, like atheism, when it's not real it doesn't survive. We all need to make sure that our Christianity is like a bridge that will support a train, not just a cat.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A room of many years

I said a little prayer of thanks laying bed last night.

Nate and I went back to our hometown so he could go hunting with his dad and I could surprise my mom by coming back.

It was the first time we have shared a bed here since we got married, and we stayed in what used to be my room. As I layed there with his arm wrapped around me, I thanked the Lord that we were where we are.

The room looks quite different today - painted drywall, only a bed, an nightstand and a trunk. For a moment I went back to the time when it had brown, paneled walls, a bookshelf on next to the closet, a desk and dresser filled with my belongings, a brightly-colored comforter spread over the twin bed.

That room saw a lot of ups and downs in our relationship. It saw the day I fell asleep smiling because I finally had a boyfriend. It saw the phone spinning on the floor as I decided if I should text him I loved him. It saw little fights we had on the phone while he was away at college the first year.  It saw the night that we broke up and I cried myself silly, and the tears that continued for the next week.

It later saw a woman in love getting ready for her bridal shower, and now it sees a happily married couple.

I laid there and thought of how much I wish I could have brought the 18-year-old me into that room to see that everything would work out. That I would finally get everything I had ever wanted and would be so happy with the man that I have always loved.

I didn't know how things would turn out, but I set my heart a long time ago on Nate, and I didn't let go.

I'm so glad we didn't give up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Make my marriage great

I think I have the best new year's resolution, and I want to resolve to make this my new year's resolution each year.

Make my marriage great.

I was just reading a FoxNews article that talked about how no one ever resolves to make their marriage great, because spouses think it should just automatically be great if they're meant for each other or it's too hard to know what to do.

Nate and I have seen some really awesome marriages, and some really horrible ones. We've seen ones that are too career-oriented, too child-oriented, too selfish. We've seen others that are full of love and compromise and nurturing. I think we both have paid attention to what has worked and what has failed in each, because we don't want to make the same mistakes.

Yes, I bet those of you who have been married a long time are thinking, "That newlywed has no idea."

No, I don't. But at least paying attention to how sucessful my marriage is is a start!

So, I resolve to make my marriage great this year, by telling Nate I love him every single time it pops into my head so I never regret that I didn't tell him; by praising him even for the little, everyday things like working or taking out the trash; by spending time just the two of us; by laughing and enjoying each other in all ways; by giving everything of myself and expecting nothing in return; by having a long fuse; by praying for my marriage and my husband and that I would have what we need to succeed and what Nate needs to succeed.

If you've been married a lot longer than me and have some helpful hints of how to make our marriage even better, feel free to comment and let me know what they are!