Thursday, August 29, 2013

Almost one year!

A year ago we had company starting to come in town as our wedding day approached.

It was those last hours, and everything was done. It was just a waiting game until I finished one more day of work and looked forward to the best day of my life so far.

I'm glad that day is over. It was wonderful and perfect, but I have enjoyed being married too much to want to go back to a time that we weren't.

As we come upon our one-year anniversary I see yet again what a wonderful man that I have married. I had to brag a little bit the last couple days as I found a couple of surprises he had for me.

First, he revealed that he had a whole weekend planned for us — staying in the hotel we stayed at when we got engaged, going to horse races for the first time, which is something I have dreamed of doing for years, and he had even packed my bag for me. Then he wasn't sure I had everything I needed so he told me.

Then today, he went to pick up a free file cabinet I found posted online, and he came back daisies he picked while he was away. He probably would be embarrassed that I'm writing about all this, but I just feel so blessed to have him. It has put me over-the-moon happy just like I was last year at this time.

If Jack were here, I would share it with him, and I think he would tell Nate it's a job well done.

I think we're well on our way to being one of those couples like the one in yesterday's video.

I love you honey!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dare you not to cry

This reminded my husband of Jack.

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It's videos like these and lives like Jack's that remind me to prioritize. Why do we spend so much time online, looking at other people's lives on Facebook while the people we love are being ignored nearby. Life is so beautiful and we only have one chance. Put God first and your family second. Choose to be present and make memories in those little moments. Take a step back to a slower time and enjoy your family.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remembering Jack

The world lost a beautiful spirit today as my e-mail pal Jack passed away.

I met him right after I started work, doing an interview with him about how he used to run a small-town grocery store that did house-to-house delivery.

When I was there, he mentioned that his wife was in a nursing home and he was lonely. I gave him my card and said to e-mail me if he ever wanted to just chat.

That turned into a beautiful, four-year friendship. We started out e-mailing a couple of times a day. Lately it had been once a week, but that is more than I talk to some of my closest friends that are my age.

We talked about his wife and her eventual passing, his life growing up, his life in the Navy, his life now. I talked about my trips, my work, my marriage. He grumbled about his health and aging and I grumbled about the predicaments in my life.

We visited in person a couple of times, and he always sent me home with candy even though he couldn't eat it himself because he couldn't eat much sugar.

It was a chance encounter, and I am so glad that I handed him my card.

So many elderly people are overlooked because they aren't in the throws of society. However, they have so much wisdom to impart. Jack encouraged me to put my husband first and to give, even when it's not noticed. He said that he did little things his wife probably didn't notice, and he is sure she did the same. They had a long and happy marriage, what more can you ask for?

Jack made cards for people on his computer. He always told me that he felt silly giving them away, but he had no idea how those little pieces of thoughtfulness touched people. I still have my wedding card and birthday card. Then today, I received a first anniversary card from him and smiled at it. It was just a minute later I checked the messages on my phone and found a voicemail from his daughter-in-law saying he had died.

Nate pulled me into a hug. And then I smiled, because I realized that as a Christian and lover of God he is now dancing in heaven with his wife in his arms. How beautiful when you know that kind of reunion happens for those who trust in Jesus.

Jack was so selfless, even making me an anniversary card when he e-mailed me that he wasn't feeling well and was going in for tests.

All I can say is, what a beautiful man. I am so blessed to have called him my friend, and I told him that many times. My prayers go out to his family, and yet my heart rejoices as I know that he and his wife are happy together in heaven.

I won't ever forget him.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A reminder to appreciate

It's weird when different parts of your start to line up, making it obvious that God is in control and wants you to learn something.

Recently, it's been the story of Jesus' crucifixion that keeps popping up. My pastor is preaching on that section of John in church; Nate and my Bible reading at home is in that section of Matthew right now. It doesn't seem like that would line up unless God wanted it to.

I've read the story and heard it hundreds of times before, growing up in church. However, lately I have heard a lot more details about it. For instance the cat-o-nine tails that was full of shards of glass and hooks that would pull off the skin and sometimes even the ribs of the people being whipped with it.

I have to be honest, I got queasy this Sunday when the pastor talked about what suffering Jesus went through. In fact right now I realize I unconsciously had a look of detest and disgust on my face as I even think back on it.

When it came time to read the chapter about Jesus' crucifixion again in Matthew last night, I wanted to skip it. It's horrible, and I don't want to keep reliving that part of Jesus' life. Can't I just focus on the good and the happy?

But no, it's important that we meditate on this part of Scripture. The greatest gift we receive, salvation, only came through the most heinous crime in history committed against a completely innocent man. If we don't know what Jesus went through, how can we be appreciative.

It reminds me a little bit of police officers. This might be a stretch, but stick with me. We don't often hear all that police officers go through. We know they pull people over for speeding and arrest drunks. However, we don't hear about the fights that are everyday occurrences, the scrapes and bruises, being at gun point while trying to protect those asleep in the next house.

When people hear stories about some dangerous situation a police officer encounters, they often express gratitude and appreciation. If they really knew all that a law enforcement officer was going through day in and day out, they probably would express it more often.

When we think about all Jesus went through, it gives us a reminder to express appreciation. Thank you Jesus for dying for us, and thank you for rising again to conquer death. Help us to remember each day what you did, and why you did it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ganglion cyst

A couple of months ago I noticed a lump on my wrist when I bent it.

I thought one of my wrist bones was out of place, but when I went to the chiropractor he diagnosed it as a ganglion cyst.

It's basically a fluid-filled pack that lives in between my wrist bones. There's no real reason for them and there's nothing you can do about it except take it out with surgery. They called the Bible-thumping cysts because they used to hit them with a big book to pop them. However, now they know that can cause a lot of damage and it also can refill again.

I went to the doctor today and told her about my cyst, and she recommended I go see a hand surgeon to get it checked out and probably get it removed.

She noted that they can grow and eat away at the bone around them and they can also reduce feeling and movement in the hand if left alone.

That all sounds bad, but it makes me not want to spend the money on getting it taken out. Sure insurance will cover part of it, but I hate to spend Nate's hard-earned money on getting out something that doesn't have to be taken out.

I guess I'll just go to the doctor and see what he says. Maybe it will be nothing. Maybe it will be worse than I think!

Monday, August 19, 2013

On the old rugged cross

Our pastor taught yesterday on the crucifixion of Jesus.

At first it sounds odd --- usually churches on teach on that section of the Gospels around Easter time. But really, how terrible is that? We only talk about the greatest gift given to us once per year?

I think what hit me the most was when he said that on the cross, Jesus became the most vile human being ever to set foot on Earth. He became worse than even Hitler. He became not only a mass murderer but a pedophile, a pornographer, a liar, a homosexual, a complaining wife, a shoplifter, a husband with a wandering eye. He became so horrible that God the Father turned his back.

I knew that Jesus died for our sin, but I never thought about him actually taking it on, becoming it, feeling the guilt and the shame of every wrong thing to ever happen before or in the future. Think of how guilty you feel when you yell at your kids or talk behind a friend's back. You feel bad and you have sinned plenty before. Think about how terrible Jesus, who had never felt the guilt or shame of sin, felt at that moment.

And yet, he wasn't thinking about himself or how bad he felt. He asked John to take care of his mother. He didn't give up and take himself down off the cross. He loves us so much that he was willing to go through whatever it took to make us clean.

I just wish that everyone could know the beauty of Jesus' forgiveness. He already died for them, if only people knew that all they had to do was accept what he did and be fully cleaned of all their filth.

I just want to leave off with the words of a song that really remind us what Jesus did:

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

"So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

"O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

"So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

"In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

"So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

"To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where his glory forever I’ll share."

Words from "The Old Rugged Cross."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My first dog: Princess Diana, 1998-2013

Princess Diana
May 7, 1998-Aug. 15, 2013

Princess Diana, best known as Priny (or Prinny, depending on who is writing it), passed away peacefully in her sleep last night at the age of 15.

We got Princess when I was 10 years old. When we brought home the little puppy that could curl up on my lap, my brother asked "Who's dog is that?"

"It's ours."

"Don't joke with me. Who's dog is that?"

"It's ours!"

We had waited a long time to get a dog, and we had tried a couple before Princess. A dog at the pound named Muffy was perfect, but she hated my dad the instant he walked in. We got an old dog named Ginger, but she wasn't house trained, and at 10 years old, that wasn't going to happen.

So little baby Princess was perfect. She was a mutt --- some kind of a miniature pinscher, weiner dog, terrier mix.

We wanted to give her a middle name, especially since we didn't like her given name of Princess. We considered Leia, but since Princess Diana had died just before we got Priny we decided to christen her Princess Diana.

I remember we used to have a potato chip box in the car with a blanket where she would sleep on road trips. She loved to chase her tail so much that it permanently curled on the top, because she could actually catch it and would hold onto it. She started out sleeping in my bed, and she would always curl up in the crook of my legs with her head on my knees. Even when she started sleeping on the floor of my parents' room she would still lay like that with me when we watched TV on the living room floor.

She had a variety of stuffed animals, which all became "bunnies," because that's what her first one was and what she knew them as. We had to buy ones without fur because she would lick the fuzz and then continue licking her tongue for hours on end.

She loved dog cookies and demanded them whenever she went inside from outside, even if she hadn't done her business.

She knew exactly when it was 4 p.m. --- dinner time --- and would bark nearly on the stroke of the hour. She used to look out the window and expect us to be walking home from the bus right when we got done with school. Even when we went to college or moved away, Mom would say "Kiley's coming home." Princess would sit on the living room stairs and watch out the window in the front door until I came.

She loved to be scratched behind her ears, and when she was a baby I could put her to sleep that way. She also loved to be scratched on her belly and would roll over and wait for you to answer her plea.

She was the perfect dog for a family. She was small, quiet and lovable. She followed my Mom around during the day, asking for a piece of peanut butter and jelly toast every time Mom had it. She would lay by Mom while she did her devotions each afternoon in her bedroom. I tried to hold Priny when I cried, but she didn't really like that.

She was 15 years old. Toward the end she was going blind and could barely hear, but when I'd visit she would perk those little ears up and trot toward me with a happy look in her eyes, unless Novie was around. Novie didn't understand that I loved Priny first.

That dog will always hold a dear place in my heart. I may have a new dog now, and Priny may have become a little mangy in her old age, but she was perfect. She was sweet and loving, and what more can you ask of a dog?

Rest in peace Princess Diana. I'm sad that we've lost you, but I'm glad that you're out of pain. Always know, I love you!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick and easy brownies

When my friends have asked me what my favorite part of marriage is, I say "Cooking!"

That might sound weird, but I absolutely love to cook for my husband. It is so rewarding when he says a meal is like we ordered it from a restaurant or he wants to save every scrap to eat as leftovers.

Then I have a cookie jar that I try to keep full. I eat the treats too, but I try to ask him what he wants as the dessert for the week. Last night he said he wanted brownies.

I got a recipe from Pinterest about making brownies that are like from a boxed mix. You can keep the dry ingredients in a bag or jar until you want to add the wet. However, it takes about two minutes to put everything together so I just whip it all up at once.

I also tweaked this recipe, because the one I first followed had a ridiculous amount of sugar and not enough cocoa and ended up with a weird consistency.

What's the point in buying a boxed mix when making your own is seriously as easy, and so much cheaper.


Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how gooey you want your brownies.

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
powdered sugar, for dusting if desired

Mix all ingredients. Pour in a greased 9-by-13 inch pan. Bake until toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trying yoga

I'm becoming a huge fan of yoga.

I tried out a lakeside yoga class for a sports magazine article and really enjoyed the fact that it was working out without feeling like you were working out.

The classes were too expensive to continue taking without feeling guilty that I was spending so much money on myself, but then I won a punch card for a discount at a local silent auction.

I finally got to attend my first class at this location tonight, and it was wonderful.

When I first got there, the quiet classroom and relaxing music was a little weird. It's odd to not have some sort of noise going on, and it actually feels a little uncomfortable. However, by the time we were done, I didn't want to leave.

Even on the ride home, I was quiet in the car.

I don't know exactly what I like so much about yoga, but it makes me feel relaxed and ready to take on the next task.

At first, I wasn't sure about yoga. There's the whole meditation angle and the history that the practice is religious. However, I don't think it's a bad practice if you go into it with the right intentions. In some of those silent moments, I would say a prayer rather than focus on the Earth or whatever you're supposed to focus on in the class.

I'm excited to learn more about the yoga moves so that I can do some at home once my punch card runs out. Or maybe I'll get lucky and get a discount again :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

PMS: Praying for Meanness to Subside

This blog is probably more for the women out there.

Yesterday, I was making cookies while my husband was cleaning up, getting ready for company to come. When he would say something to me, I could feel myself getting snippy and annoyed for no apparent reason.

It took me about a millisecond to realize it's a week before that time of the month. The PMS was hitting its stride in my body and in my mouth.

What do you do at that moment? I don't have any Midol to take to cure the symptoms, because I don't really get cramps. The more I try to curb the craving to get catty, the more catty I get because I start focusing on how annoyed I feel. I usually try to stop, diagnose my feelings and pray that God would take them away because I know I have no reason to feel the way I do - other than hormones at least.

I was listening to the radio the other day when a woman was trying to tell her Sunday school about having a pure heart, because whatever is in your heart will come out at some point. A child pointed at his heart and said, "Whatever is in here will fall out of here," pointing to his mouth.

I started thinking of the times when I get snippy, and I realized that it was because that was what was in my heart, although I try to mask it most of the time. I want to be a good wife, so I bottle up my annoyance that he leaves the lights on or is playing video games when I think he should be helping me with housework. However, when those feelings are in my heart, at some point they're going to come out my mouth.

I decided I would try harder to not let that come out. Almost immediately, I realized that I can't do that. I can't curb my sinful nature on my own. I have to ask that God will give me a pure heart and a servantful heart so that the little things don't bother me. That way the ugliness is not in my heart and then the not mean things in my heart will be what comes out of my mouth.

We can't always control what happens when we have PMS, but like in everything else in our lives, we have to turn that over to God too. PMS is not an excuse to be mean but an opportunity to realize that God can help even with hormones.

PMS: Pray for that Meanness to Subside.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Inspiring notes from Beth Moore

There's a couple of other thoughts from Living Proof Live that I wanted to share, but they don't necessarily fit in with anything else.

1. Beth Moore said she always has thought planliness is next to godliness. I disagree with her there. I think planning is great, but I have learned that what is really godly is the ability to disregard all your plans and live in the moment that God has given you to make the most of life and to do what you are called to do, even if it doesn't fit in with what you expected.

2. Going along with that: There's no redoing today. How are you spending your time? Is it in a way that a few years down the road you will look back and be happy at how you utilized your time? We don't get another chance, so make the use of each moment we're given.

3. Many women, and men, tell God, "I want you to use me, but I don't want you to mess with me in the process." We give God a small box to work within, because we want to be comfortable with how he's using us. We should say, "I want you to use me." Period.

4. "When you love God, when you talk about him, you will talk about him with that love." When I talk about my husband, I hope that it shows just how much I love him and how proud of him I am. That love I feel on the inside just bubbles forth. People who have cherished children just beam as they talk about their kids. The love is evident. When we truly love God, it should be evident when we talk as well. What comes from our hearts will spill out of our mouths, whatever it is.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Answered prayers

During the Living Proof Live conference, I wrote down a couple of notes that didn't necessarily have to do with what Beth Moore was talking about but were things that I thought about and wanted to remember.

When talking about Exodus 1 and 2, Moore noted that Moses was supposed to be killed like all Hebrew boys at that time. However, his mother saved him and in the end he was returned back to her and she was even paid to have him. That is a big God that can do something like that.

I doubt that Moses' mother would have guessed that would happen. God answers prayers in ways that we don't expect.

My best friend's dad lost the use of his legs almost a year ago. The family has struggled through the transition, heartbreak and questioning of why this happens. They thought he would be healed and able to walk again, and where they are at now just isn't where they thought they would be when the tragedy first occurred.

During the conference, I prayed for their healing. However, I didn't just pray for physical healing but that their insides would be healed. Perhaps God won't heal my friend's dad's legs (maybe he will in the future) but maybe he will just heal his heart. God may answer their prayers for healing by giving them peace with the situation and confidence in the future. The healing may come on the inside rather than the outside.

However it happens, I know that "our God is bigger. Our God is greater. God, you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God, our God."

He knew everything that was going to happen with Moses, and answered the Israelites' prayers in a way they wouldn't have guessed. Watch for answered prayer, even if it's not in the way you are thinking it will be.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Living Proof Live with Beth Moore

The Living Proof Live session with Beth Moore that I attended focused on Exodus 1-2.

Moore said this was the first time she has spoken on those passages, and the topic was on Birthing Purpose as it followed the beginning of Moses' life. Here is an outline of the points that I wanted to note during the sessions.

1. Birthing purpose is birthing something that means something. Basically, we waste a lot of time on things that mean absolutely nothing — Facebook, Twitter, TV shows.

2. Birthing purpose wil not happen without our personal cooperation. We can sit life out and God's purposes will still be fulfilled, but they will not be fulfilled in us. Purpose is important, because a sense of purposelessness in life is worse than pain.

3. Birth purpose most effectively requires significant midwifery. A midwife is someone who helps deliver something; broken down it means "With women." We are meant to be involved in one another's birthings. This is especially difficult in this culture where women are constantly competing with each other or comparing each other.

4. Birthing purpose incites our murderous oppressor. If Satan can't kill your body, he will do his best to murder your purpose for being here on Earth. Just like labor, it will be difficult to birth purpose. The prelude may be exciting and happy, but getting to true purpose will be hard.

5. Birthing purpose results from a series of events and encounters we could never orchestrate. God is obviously in charge.

6. We become our biggest obstacle to full-grown purpose. We feed what we want to grow and thrive and starve what we want to die, but often we don't do that and are our own obstacle. If you don't know where to go, act like Moses in Midian and just sit by the well and wait. God will show you what to do. In those times, you may think that your struggle isn't being heard. "Your tears may go into the pillow, but your cries go straight up," Moore said.

7. God remembers purpose even when we've moved on. We may think we need to bear up and shut up after a while of struggle. But God wants us to cry out to him. If we cry out and he answers, then we know that he is the one that answered, and he is glorified.

8. Purpose lives to help people. Without people, purpose dies. We all come to a place where we don't like people. We want to serve God, but we don't want to have to deal with someone else in order to do it. However, in history all the people who have had significant callings on their lives have had to deal with people. We should pray to have a heart that loves people.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My current struggle

I had the opportunity to attend Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conference with some friends, and it was a beautiful time of refreshing and spiritual rejuvenation.

However, my spiritual need may have been different than many of the women there.

You see, I don't have much turmoil in my life right now. Yes, I get stressed out about work and when little things go wrong, but all in all, my life is going great.

Many women at the conference said "Amen" and raised their hands and cried as they were inspired to get through the hard times. Some shared about loss in their lives, and I knew the women right next to me have gone through struggles in the past couple of years that I can't even imagine having to deal with.

At first, I almost felt empty. How was I to get the most out of the conference without having something to overcome? I wrote down in my notes that my struggle was my lack of struggle in my life. Then I realized that perhaps that is truly my greatest problem right now.

When I started packing for the conference, I knew that I needed to bring my Bible. I went into my room, and it wasn't there. I started looking around the house and couldn't find it anywhere.

Then I realized I had left it at church, when I brought it with me three weeks ago. It had been that long and I hadn't even noticed that it was missing. I didn't once look to open my Bible and read it in that time.

At the conference, I thought "Well, at least I can in preparation for the hard times." That's good to do. However, it's also important for me to praise God in these good times and create a closer relationship. Just because I don't need to cry out to him for a specific tribulation doesn't mean that I don't need him.

I'll write tomorrow about the many points I picked up during Moore's presentations.