Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nails, nails, nails

An update on my latest goal, my nails have been on my mind quite constantly lately.

It's been more than a week, and I have bit only one nail. That was the day after I made my goal, so I truly have gone a week without biting my nails! Score!

However, I do have to say that my nails are on my mind A LOT. I run my fingers against them and get the urge to stick them in my mouth, and then I have to sit on my hands or start crocheting or put both hands on the steering wheel to stop the urge.

It's weird that something as stupid as biting your nails can become all consuming. It shouldn't be that big of a deal, but like anything, when you try to stop a bad habit all the sudden you want to do it even more.

It's obviously our sinful nature that makes the bad appear so good, and the good look so difficult.

I just hope that as time passes I'll stop thinking about it as much. Someday in the future I hope it grosses me out to even think about biting my nails!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I bullied too

In sixth grade, I was part of the "popular" group.

There was a girl in my class that wanted to be a part of that group, let's call her Kate. I don't know exactly why we decided that we didn't like Kate or want her to be in our little clique, but we did.

Whenever Kate tried to hang around us, we would ignore her. I remember one time we wrote her a note to meet us on the playground at recess after lunch, and then we ditched and never showed up.

A friend and I were partnered with Kate for a project in class, and I don't remember exactly what happened but I do remember I was mean enough that my mom made me call and apologize to her.

I imagine that what happened that year is much clearer in Kate's mind than it is in my own, because we were mean enough to her that the next year she switched school districts.

I didn't think much more of it.

In high school, I was at the local country club pool with my friend, who was a member. Kate, whose family also had a membership, was also there and was sitting on a deck chair. I hadn't talked to her since sixth grade, and I had a sudden urge to go over there and apologize for what a little brat I had been.

Thankfully, she was gracious enough to accept my apology. We're even Facebook friends now.

There is a lot of news about bullying today and how it has even led to suicide in several cases. I think, "How could kids be that mean?" And then I stop and realize I was that mean, I am just glad that Kate was strong enough and her parents wise enough to get her out of the situation and put her on the path to a better life.

After sixth grade, I no longer was considered popular. I don't even know what happened, but somewhere along the way people decided I was no longer cool either, and although I had many friends, I wasn't ever in that secluded group at the top of social hierarchy.

Social standing is so important when you're a kid, and so many parents push their children to be in the popular group, thinking that leads to a better life. It doesn't. Popularity is so temporary — one day you're in and the next day you're out, with all your former friends tormenting you behind your back and to your face.

I wish that instead of hindsight being 20/20 that kids would just realize how harmful their words are and how lasting the effects. Being mean might make you feel good for a moment, but the memory of what you did to someone else will stay with you and most definitely it will stay with the person you bullied.

I'm truly sorry for the way I acted in elementary school, and I'm sure I alienated people that I could have had good relationships with. I just hope that I can use my experiences to help my children make better decisions in the future.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unlikely companions, what Christians need to be

I found this Youtube video today, and although it didn't make me "happy-cry" like it said it would, it did make me think a little bit.

This video is adorably full of animals that get along, although they shouldn't. A tortoise takes care of a hippo. A chimp (or orangutan?) is friends with a dog. A capybara is a mom to orphan puppies. These animals sense a need and fill in.

I mentioned this in my blog about "Sons of Anarchy," that I think Christians need to do more of this. We need to take in the people who don't have anyone else, who are lost or hurting or sad. We need to be there.

I think sometimes Christians are so scared of becoming a part of the world that all we do is live apart from the world. The government is now the one taking care of those less fortunate rather than the church stepping in and being God's hands.

Next time you see a little hippo that's all alone (and no I don't mean a literal hippo), step in and be a mommy, even if you're a tortoise.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dunker burgers

We try to save money when we can. The past month it seems like we've been spending money like it's our jobs — planning a trip, buying presents, getting items for the house, etc.

We like to eat out occasionally, but I try to make food at home that is good enough that we don't have that desire as often.

At a local restaurant, they have something called a Dunker Burger. It's a cheeseburger on grilled Texas toast that you dip in au jus. It is delicious.

It's also pretty simple, so I decided to try making it at home. It was quite successful, so I have made it several times. We actually haven't been back to the restaurant since!

Dunker Burger
1 pound ground beef
Six slices Texas toast
Three slices American cheese
1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Split beef into third-pound portions and make into patties, quite wide so it covers the pieces of bread. Season with your favorite spice blend. Grill or cook on stovetop.

Meanwhile, toast the bread and start making the sauce. Mix together the beef broth and worcestershire sauce, which makes a sauce similar to au jus for a lot cheaper.

When the patties are done, put them on the toast with a piece of cheese. Return all to grill or pan to finish warming and to melt the cheese.

Dunk burgers in au jus!

Note: For the bread this time, I used homemade bread I made this weekend. You can find the recipe here, Sandwich bread.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nails no more

My name is Kiley, and I'm a nail biter.

My nails actually aren't too terrible right now, because I guess I wasn't that stressed at work this week. The moment I get stressed I go right to biting, or picking the skin around my nails.

I have tried to quit for years and years. I remember my mom purchasing me a Burt's Bees skin ointment that she said she would only buy if I promised to stop picking at my skin. She also bought me a manicure kit when I promised I would stop biting my nails.

I go through highs and lows, but I've never been able to stop the habit.

The problem really is though, that my husband hates it. When he catches me, he will give me a look until I sit on my hands. But they just get so antsy, I have to do something so I start it again.

I was talking about the problem with a friend, and she said her husband used to bite his nails until he decided to stop. Then he stopped.

I don't even understand how it is possible to stop a habit so easily.

But I want to stop. I don't want to have ugly nails or have manicurists look at me like I'm gross and have terrible habits.

So here goes, I'm trying again. And I could use some prayers to keep me at it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you veterans

In the 1940s, we read about how much World War II affected people.

Their food was rationed, and so was rubber. Men were drafted and women took care of the home front or volunteered in factories to make up for their absences.

I can’t imagine living during war time. Oh wait, I do.

I don’t really understand why the war against terror doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as when you look back on other wars in the past century. Maybe it’s that there isn’t a draft going right now, so all the people serving have volunteered for the positions. Maybe it’s because the money is coming from the government instead of the American people having to give up anything to help the fight.

I have seen a brother-in-law, cousin-in-law and a couple of acquaintances be deployed, and thankfully, come back again safely. And although the time they were gone included prayers for them, I can’t say that it affected me much, if at all.

I almost wish that we were forced to sacrifice more here at home. It seems like the people in the military and their families are the only ones giving to the cause of our freedom, and that just doesn’t seem fair. If our country is in a war, shouldn’t we all be involved in some way? I mean, they are fighting for us for goodness sake.

We set aside this day of the year to say thank you to our veterans. We feature them in newspapers and on TV news programs. We interview them on radio shows.

Then tomorrow, they go back to regular life. Some of them dealing with the after effects of going to war feel forgotten, and often our veterans are.

I don’t really have any answers about what to do about this. When I see someone in uniform, I try to make an effort to go over and thank them for their service, just so they know that after Veterans Day their work is still appreciated.

Or if you know someone who has been deployed, or has served in one of our previous wars, maybe all you need to do is listen.

My grandpa served in the Korean War, an experience that was truly awful for him. Through the years I have heard several stories from that time, and I once asked him if he would sit down and tell them to me, but he refused. He just couldn’t deal with bringing those memories up.

However, he still talks about them sometimes. When he needs to get something off his chest, he will slip in another story about his war experiences.

And we just try to listen. It’s obvious that time still affects him, but we can’t go back and fix anything for him. All we can do is listen.

That’s what we can do for all our soldiers and veterans. Because when we listen, it shows that we care and that they matter and their experiences matter. Even if they don’t often talk about it, they will never forget what happened when they served. And it’s important that we don’t try to make it seem like it didn’t happen.

So although this is a small gesture, I want to say thank you. Thank you to my grandpa, my brother-in-law, my cousin, my friends and all the many strangers around the world who have fought and are even now fighting for my freedom.

They’re giving me the freedom to write this, to post my opinions on my blog, to go to church, to have the beautiful American life that I am accustomed to.

You are brave, courageous, selfless, generous, wonderful people. Even if we don’t say it enough, you are all appreciated.

These two little words have big meaning — thank you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cinnamon bread

I took a family bread recipe and made stuffed crescent rolls out of it last week, and then I used the other half of the dough to make cinnamon bread.

Nate liked it so much, he said it tasted like Pepperidge Farms cinnamon bread - the highest compliment!

So I thought I would write down a quick "recipe" of sorts, even though I don't have any measurements for the filling. 

3/4 cup milk
1/2 stick salted butter
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour
Mix milk, butter and sugar together. Scald (until milk is foamy) and cool. Meanwhile, mix together years and hot water. Proof yeast. When milk is cool, add egg into mixture and then add all to yeast. Add about three cups of mix and flour. Turn onto floured surface and knead five minutes with extra 1/2-cup flour.

Cover and let rise in warm spot for 1.5 hours.

Punch down dough, then turn out onto lightly flour surface. Roll out into rectangle.

Sprinkle white sugar, cinnamon and brown sugar on top in whatever quantities you want. Add raisins if desire.

Roll up, place in bread pan and let rise another hour.

Bake bread in 350 degree oven about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Turn onto baking rack and cool.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy 90th birthday Jack

Today would have been my friend Jack's 90th birthday.

I had it written down in my planner to make sure to remember his birthday this year, although he passed away this summer and didn't quite make the milestone.

His daughter posted a photo of him as a young man on Facebook and said that she missed him. I guess that's what everyone wants, is to have their family and friends truly miss them when they're gone.

Sometimes I wonder why people die.

There is a little girl in a nearby town that just passed away. She had beautiful eyes and looked like an absolute sweetheart. When that happens, I think maybe that look girl was just too precious. Maybe she had already figured out life, and God decided to take her because she was already as perfect as this sinful life would allow.

However, if that were true, there are some older people I know — Jack included — that seem to have life figured out. They seem to even no longer sin, because they have such a close relationship with God. If they are that good, why wouldn't God take them too?

I know we'll never know why God chooses to take some and leave others here on Earth. I know that he has his reasons for everything and we don't even need to know, but sometimes I just wish there were a few more answers than we have now.

That's where faith comes in.

For some people who aren't Christians, it's hard to not have answers. They think they will only be happy if life makes sense, so they spend time looking for explanations. When there is a question that goes beyond human comprehension, I'm glad that I can just leave it in the hands of someone much bigger and smarter than me. Sometimes I guess it's actually nice to not have to figure everything out.

Monday, November 4, 2013

His eye is on the sparrow

One day last week, I woke up with a stressed out feeling.

I had a lot on my plate for the work week, and it just seemed like I wasn't going anywhere with it. I was waiting for a question to be answered before I could start on one story and was waiting for calls back on a couple of others. I was afraid I just wasn't making progress enough to get everything done in time for my deadline.

I prayed and asked God for a little supernatural intervention that I could just get ahold of the people I needed to reach.

By 10 a.m., all the stories I was freaking out about had been set up and my questions answered.

Sometimes, you think that God doesn't care about the little things. Why would the creator of the universe care about me connecting with the people I needed to interview?

Because he cares.

Remember, his eye is on the sparrow. So I know he's watching me.

(OK, I know that's not a sparrow, but it's the same premise.)