Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not just what you do...

I didn't write much anything since last Monday, because I was spending time with my mom.

I have to say I have the best mom ever.

When Nate was away on a fishing trip, my mom stayed with me for a few days. She made the long drive out to see me all by herself, as my dad had to work.

The first full day together, she relaxed while I worked. Then I took off a couple of hours in the afternoon to eat lupper (late lunch, early supper) before we hit a few consignment shops. Then she saved me bout $40 and cut my hair, instead of me having to go to the hair salon. I think I terrified her having her cut of 8.5 inches to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, but I had faith in her!

That night we also discussed what we would do for the evenings the rest of the week. I knew she could go shopping and do most of the touristy things when I was working, so we didn't have much scheduled for the evenings. I asked if she would want to help me paint our upstairs as a surprise for Nate when he got back.

Although she hates to paint, she said she would help me.

That meant the next two evenings were filled with trimming and painting and fixing missed spots - although we were proud we didn't have much to fix up - and hanging pictures on the wall that had been in boxes since we moved.

We stood back and looked at our handiwork. Instead of the bright green color that spoke to the fact that the room used to be a kid's playroom, the dark gray pictures, the clock with black scrollwork, the wedding photos showed the it was an adult room. The aqua houndstooth couch finally looked a home instead of clashing with the green walls. The canvas, painted with a tree and filled in with family and friends' thumbprints as leaves at our rehearsal dinner, finally has a place of honor on the wall.

What a wonderful mother to give of her vacation to help me do something she didn't even enjoy doing.

Even if we hadn't done any of these things though, it still would have been a great week. Because it's not what my mom does that makes her wonderful. It's who she is.

If you have someone in your life like that, say thanks to them today. Make sure they know they are loved for who they are, not just what they do.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A little bit messy

Work is going kind of slow today. After having been busy for so much of June, I hardly know what to do with an extra moment. It seems like my life has been scheduled to the hilt for so many weeks, I'm not sure what to do when it's not!

Part of it could be that I'm excited to get home. My mom is coming for a whole week visit. She gets here tonight and is spending the weekdays with me. We're going to go to the theatre, probably do some shopping, maybe go out to eat, go for walks. It will just be nice to spend some mother-daughter time.

I hope that when I get home the house is still clean from all the time I spent getting everything ready this weekend, but with a husband there, who knows what will be out of place. That's OK though. That's how we live.

I grew up in a house that was always in order. My mom didn't work, and she loves a clean place, so shoes and coats were in the closet. Glasses were picked up and put in the sink or the dishwasher. The furniture was always dusted, and the bathrooms always clean. It's still like that today. With a family of four, it honestly probably wasn't as perfect as I remember, but that was how it seemed!

I don't mind a little mess. However, there is a line, and when it gets crossed, my stress rate doubles instantly and I can't take it anymore. Most of the time though, I'm OK with stuff being a little out of order.

That is, until we have company. When people are visiting, I rush around beforehand trying to put everything away. The house is usually "clean," it's just messy so I have to stick everything in its spot. When people show up unexpectedly, I don't to get my best foot forward. I apologize when they see how we really live.

I'm getting to the point where I'm more OK with it. Yes, maybe my house isn't perfectly in order all the time. It's lived in. If it was perfect, I would be pestering my husband all the time or I would be resenting him as I constantly cleaned up his mess. This way, we're both much happier and less stressed.

I guess if people see it, it's just showing who we really are. There are things more important to me than a perfectly clean house. I'm not judging those who like to stay tidy - I really wish I enjoyed cleaning more so our house was spotless all the time. But I don't, and it's not. I guess I should just pull off the mask and be OK with who we really are!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Take a leap

At church this morning, a boy - I would guess 6 or 7 - was standing on the top of the pew in front of his dad. His dad has the little boy's hands, and then the boy just threw himself forward.

He hung with his head down, but if his dad lost his grip, the little boy would have somersaulted and crashed into the next pew.

That thought didn't even enter his head I'm sure. He had such faith that his dad would never allow anything to happen to him that he knew he could flip around and be a daredevil without fear.

Put an adult in the same situation, and I would 99% or more of us would not trust another person enough to fully throw themselves forward and trust someone to grab them. Most of us don't even trust God like that. We should though. We're encouraged to act like little children, and that means sometimes just trusting that God will catch us when we take a leap.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Missionary support

Sometimes it's difficult to know what's worth supporting.

We talked to some Latvian missionaries on Sunday, and they asked to meet with us this week. It was nice talking to them and hearing about their ministry, and then came the ever-awkward "Can you support us?"

I wish we had an unlimited supply of money, I really do. However, we didn't pick the most prosperous careers, and we do have a budget to stick to. Of course, we love to support the church. However, Nate really has a passion for supporting the local church and what is going on right here in town. I have liked to support orphans in India since I was a little girl.

There's worthy missions all around the world, and you really like to support them all, but you can't. The missionaries said they understood this, and they know that everyone is called to different causes. When you say "no" to a missionary though, it feels like you're saying "no" to God. It's like "What you're doing isn't quite as important enough for me to give my money to." Of course it's important enough, everything that God does is important.

We haven't decided what we're going to say yet, but I did think that the man's response at the end of our time together was funny. He gave us high ratings for dealing with missionaries. I was a little confused, "Do you have some awkward encounters?"

He told us a story about how he has walked into people's homes and was immediately greeted with a crazy look. I don't know if people don't know how to deal with missionaries or if they are just worried that they will be asked for money.

Missionaries are just people, called by God in a different way. I would love to support everyone's calling. I guess we can - whoever we don't support financially we can always support through prayer!

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Love Comes Softly"

Isn't it amazing that God knows what we need before we need it?

I went back to read one of my all-time favorite books, "Love Comes Softly" by Janette Oke. I first read it when I was an early teen, and I went on to read all the series and all of the books the Oke wrote solo. My mom has all of them, I think.

They are all wonderful, and she was truly a gifted writer. However, I don't think most came as successfully as the "Love Comes Softly" series.

Once you start reading it's hard to put the book down. I haven't read much lately, and still I read it in only three sittings.

It's the tale of Marty Claridge, who loses her young husband and is forced to marry a man in the Canadian West that she doesn't know just because she needs a place to live and he needs a mother for his little girl.

They bear with each other, barely. However, the time comes that they aren't sure they want to part in the spring, when Clark promised Marty he would pay for the money to take the wagon train back East.

Spoiler alert: In the second book, Clark and Marty are truly husband and wife, and Marty wakes up after having a bad dream about losing her first husband again. However, she's thankful she's not alone anymore. God put Clark in her life long before she knew that she wanted or needed him. She thanks God that he did what was best even before she knew what that was.

I know it's just a story, but I love the fact that it illustrates how little we know about God and how little faith we have in him. If we just lived one day at a time and stopped worrying about the future, we would see that God has everything under control. He doesn't need help from us.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A few good friends

It took me a long time to be confident with who I am.

I used to think I needed to be more outgoing, have more friends, wear the latest trends and so much more. I was convinced I needed to be what everyone else was.

However, I have found that I just embrace my personality, I am so much happier.

Actually, the older I have gotten, the more others seem to become like me, at least in one way.

I have always been the girl who has been satisfied with a couple of close friends rather than a whole gaggle of not-as-close friends. I don't necessarily have a lot of people to call to hang out, but I like to have deeper relationships that just surface ones. If all of my friends are busy, I'm fine spending time at home alone.

In high school and college, it seemed like the popular people have lots and lots of friends, and that's what everyone was shooting to have. I tried to put myself out there more, but it just wasn't me.

Now, I have a solid group of good friends. It's expansive enough for me, and I have noticed that other people I know that used to be social butterflies have also narrowed down their social groups to a few closer relationships. Even on the radio tonight the host said that it's impressive to have one or two really good friends, and that you don't need more than that.

It makes me happy to realize that I am finally embracing who I am. It's only taken 25 years.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eating local

I kind of wish that our backyard was larger for the simple fact that I would like to have a huge garden.

This week I have found extreme satisfaction in eating local and fresh foods, and I would love to have even more.

I think a lot of it stems back to my frugal nature, but it's also a lot of fun to pick your own foods.

We have a mulberry tree in our yard, and Nate didn't know that people actually ate those berries. My mom used to pop some of the sour ones from a tree that used to be in our backyard growing up, so I know that they were edible, although I never ate them when I was little. I tried one from the yard, and it wasn't bad, although it wasn't a raspberry either.

However, I decided that I would try to pick some of them for the sole reason that they are free in our yard. I thought I could make a mulberry crisp or mulberry jam - if we liked it we liked it, if not, oh well. It turned out pretty well.

Then we found some wild raspberries, picked them and had them with some French vanilla ice cream. It was absolutely delicious, and I hope we can get more this season.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner, and we had quite the spread. We had a salad with lettuce from the garden, fried catfish that Nate caught, asparagus I picked wild earlier this week, rice (that I bought) and the mulberry cobbler.

Looking at the dinner, it made me smile thinking about how fresh all the food was. I felt a satisfaction yesterday, eating all this local food, that I haven't felt before. It has been a new experience for me. I love it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't go in the fertilizer!

Nate fertilized the lawn yesterday, so we didn't want Novie walking around in it. She licks her paws, and we didn't want her to get sick.

When she pushed her way out of the mud room door, she immediately headed for the grass. I tried to head her off, so she took off in the opposite direction to another patch of grass. I then herded her back the other way and finally got her to go back inside.

How often do you think God feels like that?

"Kiley, don't go out there. It's not good for you." I run in that direction. "Don't go that way, come this way." I run a different way. "No, still not that way. This way." I finally understand.

Jesus is the great shepherd, and we are his sheep. It's not just that sheep are stupid and follow their shepherd but that they run and get lost and he has to herd us back to where we're supposed to be.

Like a dog that doesn't know what's good for it, we often run away when we would be safer if we would just listen to our master.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

He's watching...

I was sitting in church and picking my cuticles.

It's a bad habit I've had since I can remember. I remember my mom picking at her thumbs growing up, and somewhere along the way I picked up the trait. Usually, when Nate catches me at it he will elbow me or tell me to stop picking my fingers.

This morning, I guess I wasn't doing it long enough that he noticed, but I noticed I was doing it, so I stopped because I know he doesn't like it.

If only I would stop doing the things in my life that God didn't like just because I knew he didn't like me doing them.

I'm sure that it's a sign of my relationship with God and that he isn't No. 1 on my priority list that I don't obey just because I know he doesn't like me doing something. I say that I love God first and my husband second, but my actions don't really speak to that most of the time.

I will admit a second thing - when Nate isn't around, I probably would have continued picking longer. But since he was sitting right there, I stopped when I realized what I was doing.

However, God is always with me. I do a lot of things he wouldn't like right in front of him, and most of the time I don't even apologize for it, until later that is.

It's hard when you don't see your God in the same physical presence that we see others. We often forget that the Holy Spirit is right here with us. If we could see the Holy Spirit watching, how would our lives change?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The soul is naturally Christian

I finally finished "In God's Underground," by Richard Wurmbrand.

When I closed the book Nate asked me how it was. Sad, hopeful, intense, interesting, informative - it's so many things. It took me a while to read because it is so jam-packed full of intense moments from Wurmbrand's years in Communist prison.

One part that I was compelled to read aloud to Nate while we were out fishing this week - as in he was fishing while I was reading - was a part when the prisoners were forced to go to lectures where speakers would try to engrain in them Communist views.

"...when a lecturer said that, 'only a handful of chemicals' remained of the body after death, I asked why, if that were so, some Communists had given their lives for their beliefs. 'For a Christian to sacrifice himself,' I said, 'may be considered wise. To give up the transitory things of life to win eternity is like laying down ten dollars to win a million. Buy why should a Communist give his life --- unless he too has something to gain for himself?

"The political officer could find no reply. So I suggested that the answer had been given by Augustine when he said that, 'the soul is naturally Christian.'"

I agree with Augustine. I think that the soul knows that God exists and that we are all subject to one greater than ourselves. That's why everyone searches for a meaning to life. Some people rebel against God and try to find meaning elsewhere, but they always have that God-shaped hole inside of them that nothing else will fill.

When I look around nature and see the sun, feel the wind, smell the flowers and hold hands with a man I love, I see that there is so much more than we can sense with our bodies. There is something more, something that only our souls know, and that is that God is there and that he is in charge. We're all naturally Christian, we just don't all know it.