Friday, November 7, 2014

Pride comes before a fall

You know what? I'm not as awesome as I think I am.

I've realized in the last couples of weeks, that I have a huge issue with pride. And it's not all that easy to change.

I've started to see that I think pretty highly of myself, in my personal life and also at work. I have gotten into trouble thinking that whatever I do is great and that no one else needs to check up on what I'm doing.

I've started to see that I'm wrong.

In the past, I've had some issues that have only affected me and my relationship with God. An issue with pride, that involves my relationship with others. When I brag about what I'm good at, that turns people off. When I tell my husband he made a mistake and act like I never do, that makes him upset. When I jump ahead at work and take control when I'm not supposed to, that makes my co-workers angry.

What's also difficult about an issue with pride is that I don't often notice when I'm doing it. When it's a conscious sin, I obviously know when I'm committing the error. Little prideful moments sneak up, and I don't realize I have done something wrong until I have to deal with the ramifications.

That's where God steps in. I know that God wants me to deal with my pride and overcome the temptation to do it in the future. I can't overcome the issue without realizing when I'm doing it though, so I have to rely on God to show my as the temptation for pride comes up.

This is going to take some time. I hope that people around me are forgiving enough to be patient as I learn to humble myself one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home design

Large, luxurious kitchens with beautiful cabinets, fixtures, glass backsplashes and new appliances. Bathrooms with expensive bowl sinks, waterfall shower heads and old-fashioned claw foot tubs. Laundry rooms with new washers and dryers, places to hang up coats and boots when you come in the door and adorable washtub sinks.

Sometimes its fun to oggle at all the beautiful home interiors on Pinterest or the many home shows on TV.

I start planning in my head how I would change our kitchen or finish our basement or improve our yard or how I hope that I can have this or that when we get our dream of owning an acreage and building our own home. Most of what I dream of we would never be able to afford.

I think I'm a bit of a home snob. I love our home, and I'm proud of what we've done with it. I do have to say I tend to look at people's homes, and I know that I would never be OK with the mismatched furniture and old stuff that they have. I would not be proud to have people over if my house wasn't just so.

I'm blessed that my husband has made a lot of our furniture, and its gorgeous. But we're also blessed we have had the income to purchase the wood and items to make those pieces. We're also blessed our home has great bones and doesn't need much interior design work to be cute.

It really shouldn't matter what our home looks like. As I was reading "Loves Long Journey" by Janette Oke, one of my favorite books, I realized that I'm quite proud when it comes to houses. Missie moved into a soddy when her husband brought her west, and she could make that a home. If dirt can be a home, then anything that I put love into can be a wonderful home.

It's probably like my mom always said, "Put a smile on and no one will notice what you look like anyway." "Put a smile on, welcome people into your home, and no one will notice what it looks like anyway."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wanna join the mile-high club?

"Wanna join the mile-high club?"

That's how a Hardee's commercial starts -- with a sexy blonde leaning over to a man across the aisle.

Of course, he says "Yes."

She then hands him the Mile High Thickburger, but I have to say you immediately picture something different the first time you see the commercial. Eating a hamburger isn't usually what you think when you hear "mile-high club."

It seemed appropriate to see how sexually-saturated our culture is as I was proofreading my pastor's latest sermon on lust. He wrote:

       "Lust and its unbridled expression known as pornography are considered by some men to be a sign of manliness, a right of passage to manhood.  I want to propose the exact opposite.  Men who give themselves to lust are not displaying masculinity, rather they are showing their lack of masculinity.  
"Puritan writer John Milton wrote the book Paradise Lost.  In this fictional work, the biblical Adam was shown the great mass of men that would be seduced in the future by women.  In classic Adam fashion, Adam instantly blamed Eve for the problem.  It was Eve’s fault for having such beautiful posterity.  In the book, the angel showing Adam this vision disagreed with him.  The angel explained to Adam that the men’s seduction by women was their own faults.  The angel said they were seduced because of their effiminate slackness.  A man who is seduced to lust after a woman is displaying femininity and weakness —- effeminate slackness.
"The heart of masculinity is self-sacrifice, headship and leadership.  A man possesses authority to lead himself and discipline his body.  His leadership should rise to the point where he is not just capable of leading himself but he is also capable of sacrificing himself to lead and care for a wife and provide for his children.  Men are designed by God for self-discipline and sacrifice so they can lead and protect those entrusted into their care, a wife and children.  

"The word seduction comes from the Latin word seduco which means, I lead.  When a man allows himself to lust after a woman, either an actual woman in front of him or a virtual woman in a magazine or computer screen, he is abdicating his manliness.  He is letting a woman lead him away from his wife and family rather than disciplining himself to exclusively love his wife and family.  He is not displaying the self-discipline and leadership of a true man."

I don't think I can say it much better, so I just wanted to share the words of a Godly man.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Anticipating his desires

The other night at dinner, my drink ran out mid-wings. The waitress didn't come over until I was done eating, and she asked if I wanted a refill on my drink.

I was rubbing my head because a headache was starting, and I said no I didn't want another sweet drink. Nate said "You want a water?" as the waitress was walking away, and I said "Oh yes, I want a water please."

Most of the time, Nate knows exactly what I want. Sometimes he knows what I want before I realize it myself. We're just so close that we can read each other's expressions and movements. We also just know each other so well that I know what he usually wants and he knows what I would want in a normal situation.

It's like that when we're so close to God. We often act like we have no idea how God would want us to act in a certain situation or we don't know how to find out his will. Well, if we were just close enough to God we would know what he wants. We would have a heart like his and we would know him so well that we could anticipate his desires.

It's no wonder that God uses marriage as a reflection of Christ's relationship with us and his church. If I had a relationship with Christ and the church like I had with my spouse, I'm sure my faith would be a lot stronger.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cramped legs

I was laying in bed last night, and my legs started to get squirmy between Nate and Novie. I sometimes get a little claustrophobic when I can't move my legs like I want to, and that made me think about the horrible torture box that they put people in in "Zero Dark Thirty" to get them to talk.

I would not do super well in a tight spot like that, and I'm glad I don't have any deep, dark secrets that anyone would want to get out of me.

However, then I realized that every day Christians are being persecuted and tortured for their faith. When I think about someone challenging my faith, I have wondered if I am ready to die for what I believe in. I am. I would die before renouncing my faith in Jesus Christ.

I have not thought about if I am ready to be tortured for my faith. It is entirely possible that in my life or in my children's lives that our country will not be so free and we may be tortured to try to get us to renounce our faith.

What if someone put me in a tiny box where I couldn't flop around like I usually do when I lay down? What if they pulled out my fingernails? I don't do well with pain --- what would I do if I was in extreme pain every moment of every day and I couldn't just die, I had to suffer through it. Would I give in?

I know that being able to quote Scripture to myself would help. I could say "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." Then I realized that I don't know that many Scriptures that would be able to help me in hard times. I usually memorize Scriptures (when I memorize them, that is) that are positive. Those Scriptures apply to where I am today. But what if things change? I should be prepared for every obstacle, not just the ones that I can foresee.

The way my mind jumps around is the exact reason that I usually watch TV to go to sleep! It stops me from thinking!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thankful for...

I challenge you to not only write down what you're thankful for today but to tell the people you're thankful for that you appreciate them!

1. Chats with my best friends, even if it's on the phone and not in person.
2. A friend to run with who keeps me accountable.
3. A husband who is so wonderful that it makes me actually want to cook, clean and do laundry so that he is taken care of.
4. Thank you notes from my mom that have artwork from my beautiful niece.
5. Family that will drive an hour just to have lunch with me when I'm in the area.
6. Unexpected blessings
7. A pastor that preaches straight from the Bible.
8. Old TVs shows that make me smile.
9. Pictures that record memories.
10. Time outside on the job.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Filling our lives

With Joan Rivers and Robin Williams dying recently, their names have made headlines.

People have talked about their comedy, their careers, their fame. We assume that people who are in the spotlight have amazingly wonderful lives, because they can afford to have whatever they want. However, Joan Rivers sure seemed bitter about the world, and Robin Williams died of his own accord --- they weren't quite as happy as we expect they should have been.

So many people strive for fame and fortune, yet when they receive it, they still are unhappy. Some might say all they need is love and family, which is wonderful. But what about when that goes bad? Divorce, unhappy children, life's struggles --- suddenly life and family isn't all people expected either.

It's all about that God-shaped hole. We need to know there is someone bigger than us that we can rely on, someone who can save us from this sinful world, and that's God. We can try to fill that hole inside us with fame, fortune, family, love, but it won't quite fit. We need to have God.

It's a simple sentiment, but it's really the most important one. We can never really have success or feel complete without the love and salvation of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pots and pans and happy days

I didn't have a very good day at work on Friday, and we were expecting company on Friday night, so when I got home, I was a little stressed.

I headed inside to finish up some work and then got started making cupcakes for our get-together, and Nate stayed in the garage because I know he could read on my face I was stressed and needed to just be alone and get things done.

However, then I got a text message that read "How can I help your stress?"

Melt my heart, the sweet man. I told him if he could sweep up before everyone came, that would be a huge help.

Then as I reached into the cupboard to find my cupcake tin, I saw a bunch of boxes amidst my old pots and pans. I didn't realize what they were doing in there at first, and then I found they were boxes filled with a brand new pasta pot, two new skillets and two new cookie sheets - from Williams Sonoma no less.

Those were my anniversary gift from my absolutely amazing husband. He knew that our pots were old hand-me-downs and secondhand store finds from before we were married, and he wanted to get me something nice. I never thought I would have anything from Williams Sonoma, and here he goes and buys me something out of the blue.

You might think it's not a big deal, but first, we said we wouldn't get each other gifts after we got married. We wanted to use those funds to go on trips and get big purchases when we needed them instead of spending little bits here and there on gifts. It's worked out great so far, and we don't miss gifts.

It makes it all the more special when he goes out of his way to think of something to get me on a holiday, because I'm definitely not expecting it. He said he wanted to get me something since I never buy anything for myself, and he likes my cooking.

I have to say, after a terrible day, his sweet gestures really made me feel good and brightened what would have ended as a bad day to remember. Now when I look back on that, it is with good feelings that my husband is there supporting me and doing his best to make me happy.

We're coming up on our second anniversary, and I have to say, this man continues to surprise me. I have loved him for a long time, but he is constantly growing and changing and becoming a man that blesses me constantly. It actually makes my stomach twist when I think about him, because my love is growing each day for him.

When our friends get married, I am just so happy for them, because marriage has been more than I expected. You hear so much how hard the first couple of years are, and you are always seeing couples fight. However, we have been so blessed to have two wonderful years together with little stress and fighting. Being married to Nate has given me a teammate, a support system, a lover, a friend, a confidant, a rock, a hero. He is beyond wonderful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just ask

You know how you feel when you do something wrong and you keep it from your spouse, parent, boss or friend?

It starts out easy, but soon you feel guilt biting at you. When you're around that person, you get nervous and your heart starts beating when a similar topic comes up, because you hope that they're not going to bring up something related to what you did. It just gets worse the longer you keep the secret.

However, if you come clean and admit to what you did wrong, you don't have to worry about it. You might have to pay for the mistake, but it still isn't as awful as the horrible guilt eating away at you. Plus, it gives the other person a chance to forgive you.

Aren't we blessed that we have a God that will forgive us easily since Jesus already took on all our sin on the cross? Psalm 32 says "For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."

That is just beautiful. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. All we have to do is ask.

However, sometimes it is hard to ask. We have to be willing to learn from our mistakes and to ask for help from God. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you."

Once again, everything boils down to that darn sin of pride. If I can't admit I did something wrong because I'm afraid people will see me as fallible, then I can't be forgiven. I have to humble myself and ask for forgiveness to be able to receive it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Religious freedom

I can see how the Psalms would be of great comfort to people going through hard times, especially those being persecuted for their faith in Jesus.

In them, David raves about God's might and power and how he will eventually win over any and all evil. I was reading it on my phone while I was walking home from a run yesterday and thought about how many people are suffering for their faith around the world. It seems so far away, and like it could never happen to me.

Really though, how hard would it be to take over this country and take away our freedom of religion. I know, many people don't think we have a freedom of religion because of the flack that Christians get, but all-in-all, we have it really good compared to much of the world.

The majority of time in history, Christians have not been free to pursue their faith. They have been persecuted, and I just heard on the radio that almost every member of the Council of Nicea came missing an appendage or an eye or with burns, because they sacrificed for their beliefs.

It's honestly odd that we have so much freedom today, and will it really last? Will it always be this easy to be a Christian? And are we prepared for the moment that our freedom is eaten away and we might actually have to fight for our faith?

How much of the Bible will you have memorized to get you through if you don't have it to read? Will you know any of it? Will you even fight to keep it?

I wonder what I would do if I was actually challenged on my faith and how to give up something for believing in God?

On the other hand, I wonder if having a faith to fight for would make some of us more vocal. In a culture where Christianity seems so commonplace, we often don't bring up our beliefs and don't share about Jesus with others, because we just assume they have heard. Maybe living in a time or place where it isn't common to be a Christian would make us more willing to share our faith, despite the consequences.

I just think that we, and I include myself, have gotten so used to having freedom of religion, that we don't treasure our relationships with God like we should. Like many important things --- family, friends, people in need --- when it is commonplace, we lose our passion for it. We get excited about the unusual, when everyday things should be even more important.

I want a fire for faith that makes me want to share it with others, whatever the consequences.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

He listens

Break-ins, murder, financial crisis, family troubles --- where do non-Christians turn when times get hard?

"To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit." (Psalm 28)

I don't think I even realize just how important it is to me to have God in my life. Thankfully, I haven't ever experienced life without God. Whenever I have the slightest trouble, I just have to call upon him and know that he is in control. It's not always easy to trust, but I know that I can trust the creator of the universe a whole lot more than I can trust myself. I am so fallible, and God is so powerful.

"Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped..."

Psalm 28 is a wonderful reminder of where we are to go in hard times, and even in the good times. God listens to us. He truly listens to us, and he cares what happens to us. That is such a wonderful sentiment for the day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Want to want to do right

As I read Psalms, I am just constantly impressed by the way David wants to live for God and strives to be a man after his own heart.

He made plenty of mistakes, but the Psalms read like a love letter to your most beloved, that you want to sacrifice for them and joyfully give to them.

As I was reading Psalm 27, I think that is what struck me most. I want to so much have a close relationship with God, but how do I want to give up everything for him? I hate to admit it, but I don't. I struggle with every ounce of my earthly being in not wanting to sacrifice for my faith.

There are so many in the world today who have such a passion for God that they will risk everything for it, and I am concerned that my faith is not that strong. It isn't tested often, and when I am asked by God to give something up, it's a giant struggle.

It's that selfishness creeping in again. I know that in marriage selfishness is wrong, and I have to combat it every day. However, in my marriage, I want to give up being selfish, because I see how damaging it is to the relationship. Maybe it boils down to that fact that I can't see God. I can't see his reaction to my selfish actions, so I don't feel as bad about them.

I guess the question is, how do I want to give up everything? I want to want that, but I don't want that.

Do you ever get afraid to ask God to teach you how to do something? Do you ever think it's just inviting struggle into your life because we so often learn through the hard times? Sometimes I want to just find an easy way to learn a lesson, but I get worried that God knows that I won't learn it very well. So instead of inviting a hard lesson, I just want to avoid the lesson altogether and go on my merry way.

Ugh. I pray that the Lord gives me a heart that desires to change and be a better person, because I know that without his help I'm a doomed case. Just like every one of us.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Distracted faith

It's been a little while since I've been able to blog, since we don't have constant Internet.

Have you noticed that the moment you start praying or spending time with God in other ways is the moment that Satan starts to attack you, even in the smallest ways?

And I don't even mean attack as in tempting you, I mean attack as in trying to distract you.

The other day I was coming home from a near by city, and I started praying in the car. Something happened that made we start to question my intentions toward people, and it was a time I started feeling very close to God. Then the road I was going to take was closed, and there was a winding detour, and my mind started to go to driving instead of on God.

When I have been praying, reading my Bible and writing in my journal lately, even when I started this blog, that has been the moment my dog has demanded attention. She can be perfectly fine and then when I start to think about God, she suddenly sits by me whining or trying to play with me.

Satan obviously doesn't want us to spend time with God, and he's good at making it easy to get distracted. It could be the phone rings, something loud booms outside and you go check it out, the kids start pestering you, the dog is annoying, you start planning dinners for the week or thinking about your to-do list --- there is a myriad of ways to get distracted.

So I think it's important that we realize it's hard to spend time with God, and then we need to be aware of distractions and fight against them at those moments. Satan will do all he can to make sure our faith doesn't grow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Respect your husbands

If you're married, you should read this article.

It's definitely a huge pet peeve of mine to see women constantly trashing their husbands. It's like they enjoy talking down to them or bashing their husbands to their friends, and they're always looking for something the men do wrong. I try my best to not engage, but I have to admit sometimes their frame of mind rubs off, and before I realize it I've just made fun of my husband as well. I back track as quickly as possible, but it has slipped out.

Before getting married, I read a book full of advice from successful couples. The one item that stuck out most to me was the story of a married couple sitting with a group of other married couples. Everyone was bashing on his or her spouse, and this one couple stayed quiet.

Soon their friends asked them what they did that bugged each other. They looked at each other and couldn't think of anything.

Early in their marriage, they had decided to only look at the positives in each other. It must not have been always easy, but after so many years looking at the positive they literally couldn't see the negatives anymore.

I think that is beautiful. Like anything in life, marriage takes perspective. You might have to train yourself to look at only the positives in your husband, but if those are the only things you dwell on for so many years, that's all you will see.

But in his blog, Matt Walsh had a good point. It doesn't matter if you see the negatives in your husband. You should respect him, because he is your husband. He is the man given to you by God to be your provider. We want our husbands to love as us we are, without having to deserve it. Our men deserve our respect whether they "deserve" it or not, whether they have earned it or not. Our love and respect will give them a reason to be loving and respectable.

I told a friend once that he should love his wife even if she changes after marriage. Even if she is the "wrong" person, he chose her and it is his duty to love her. Often when people get divorced, they say it was a mistake to get married because they married the wrong "one." Marriage isn't about "one." It's about a choice, a commitment. Whether your spouse deserves to be loved, you love them. Whether your husband deserves to be respected, you respect him as the head of your house. You might not respect all his decisions, but you respect him as a man.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The beauty of God's law

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

Oh how true that is. Working in the conservation field, I daily am in awe of God's creation. The honeybees we have at work are like looking at tiny little miracles as they make plans for honeycomb with their bodies and use their wings to create a vacuum to dry down the honey they've made.

It makes me wonder how anyone in the science field can doubt the existence of God when everything around us is so miraculous that it's obvious a higher power is in charge.

Amidst all his gushing about creation, David moves into talking about God's law in Psalm 19. "The ordinances of the Lord are pure and altogether righteous."

It doesn't seem to work with the first half of the Psalm, unless you start to think about God creating the law. He put together a certain set of rules in the Bible, and every one of those rules has a reason behind it. They are to protect us, and if we follow them, each and every one is for our own good.

It's not like some of the laws in this country, which can make no sense and are ridiculous. Some of them do more harm than good. However, each one of the rules that God sets forth is good. "The law of the Lord is perfect," David said.

That in itself it a wonderful creation. God has the perfect mind that not only makes beautiful things, but it makes perfect laws that will keep us safe and give us hope and a future. If we would only follow them.

Laws are beautiful? I guess when David put it the way he did, they are.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A real relationship

I love God. I truly do.

But often I still try to fill my life with other things. I guess I don't really believe that God is enough for me.

I want what David had in Psalm 16, saying "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."

This challenge, which I'm failing at, has made it clear that God isn't No. 1 in my life. Because I'm willing to read a book of the Bible, but I have stunk at spending 15 minutes praying every day. That seems so long and boring to me. It's difficult to have a conversation for that long with no one talking back and no one to look at.

Yet, a relationship does need quality time. The No. 1 person in my life is my husband, and we obviously need to spend time together to make our relationship work. When we spend time together, talking or just doing other activities, it builds our relationship. That constant time is what has made our love strong.

God needs that from me too. He needs me to spend time with him otherwise we won't have a strong relationship, and he won't be No. 1. I can't say "apart from you I have no good thing" unless I truly am in love with God and need him in my life.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure."

Wherever we are in life, if we have a strong relationship with God, it's all that we need. If we know that God is in charge and whatever portion and cup we have is because of God, we will know we are secure and we're where we're supposed to be.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Clean out your car!

As I was driving to a bachelorette party this weekend, I didn't notice how incredibly dirty my car was.

That's because it's usually like that.

I mean, compare it to people who live out of their cars, it's not bad. But I accidentally dumped Doritos crumbs from the bottom of the bag on the passenger side floor, and it has empty Ziplocs from when I bring food on trips or to work. There are water and pop bottles on the floor and CD cases (Yes, I still have CDs in my car). The back seat always has a blanket to protect it from my dog.

I don't really notice it. That is, until someone gets in my car. When I gave the bachelorette a ride, I quickly threw everything into the backseat. However, I still realized that the car was dirty.

It's kind of like our lives. We might have quite a bit of dirt inside our hearts and have plenty of issues with sin, but we don't really notice it as much when we're on our own. Bring in someone who is pure, and we start to notice everything that is wrong with us.

I guess that's why we're told to keep each other accountable. If no one tells you to clean your car, what's the incentive to do it?

I didn't mean to, but I think this blog goes along well with my memory verse I just chose for this week: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things." Philippians 4:8

 And just one more added note a little later this morning, guess what verse popped up on my phone as the verse of the day? Yep, Philippians 4:8. Guess God likes that as my memory verse!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Right beside you

A long time ago, I heard Joyce Meyer say that when you want to believe but you don't know how just say, "I trust you Lord, help me to trust you."

I think Psalm 13 is a little bit like that. When David wrote, "Will you forget me forever," he obviously was going through a time that he felt distance from God. Things weren't going well, and it just didn't seem like God cared.

Only a few verses later though, he said "I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."

It's a little bit like, why aren't you there Lord? Yeah, I know you're there, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.

I think we all get that way every now and again. We start going through troublesome times, and we immediately feel like God has forgotten all about us. Our enemies are winning, and we can't do anything about it.

But if you just stop and remember everything you've read about God, you realize that he hasn't left. He is always there to carry us through tough times. It's OK to ask God where he is. He'll always tell you he's right beside you.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vile lying vs. good lying?

We think lying is only bad when we do it for a wrong reason.

If we lie to cover up a mistake, it's wrong. If we lie out of flattery, it's OK. However, in the next Psalm that I read, it says "Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts..."

So much of what we say and do and whether it is right or wrong comes down to our hearts. Are we using flattery to get ahead, like lying to my boss about how great he is and what a great job he's doing even if I don't believe what I'm saying? Just because that lie makes someone else feel better doesn't make it right.

However, is it wrong to flatter someone if we're not benefiting from it? Is it OK if we just want to make someone feel good so we tell them they look nice even if they don't?

Sometimes it's hard to decipher where the line is. Maybe it's best to just not even come close to it and to be honest always, or to just keep our mouths shut if we can't be honest.

The Psalm concludes with "You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man."

I pray that as vileness is exalted in this day and age that we will be guarded.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Challenging challenge

Well, I took a challenge at church on Sunday to read a chapter of the Bible each day, pray 15 minutes each day and memorize one Bible verse each week.

I started reading through the Psalms, so I figure I'll continue to read through one each day, and I'll try to write about them as I go along.

Today, I start with a short one: Psalm 11.

What can the righteous do when it seems like their enemies are attacking? Just remember that God is God in heaven. He is watching us, and he sees everything bad going on around us. Even when it seems like the evil ones are winning, they aren't overall.

"On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur, a scorching wind will be their lot."

He also sees the righteous at heart.

"He loves justice, upright men will see his face."

I haven't memorized a verse of the Bible since I was a little kid. I flipped through my Bible and looked at some highlighted verses. I think this is a good one to remember.

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Ephesians 5:10

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy birthday!

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, from the death and funeral of my grandfather to my in-laws coming to stay for half a week.

I've spent the last few days recuperating from exhaustion!

This weekend, we get to celebrate my husband's 28th birthday. A couple of months ago he mentioned that he was turning 28, and the look on his face was comical. For some reason, 28 sounds old, at least to us! I know to people older than us, 28 still sounds quite young.

What better time to talk about how thankful I am for my husband than his birthday? When I debate about having children, I look at him and think about how thankful I am for my life with him, and not having children would mean that they wouldn't get to experience the joy and beauty of true, deep, meaningful love.

This week, his family brought some items from a drawer they had cleaned out in his room. We tried on his old glasses and laughed. We talked about his G.I. Joes. We flipped through old pictures of us from high school.

I loved Nate in high school. He was good looking, nice, funny, outgoing. However, what he was then is nothing compared to who he is today. It almost brings tears to my eyes as I think about how wonderful he is and how much he has grown through the years.

Nate is a true man. He is selfless, courageous, strong, godly, generous, fun-loving, hard-working, hilarious, sweet, caring, loving, forgiving and so much more.

When I look at him, my heart sometimes jumps and sometimes it just fills up with love. Sometimes when our eyes meet I just break out into a grin. 

At my grandpa's funeral, he was my rock. He didn't complain that we stood around for hours on end. He held me, stood by me, hugged me when I cried, tickled me after it all ended and I needed to laugh and break the tension. He was everything I needed.

We have grown and changed together, but it's all done nothing but bring us closer. I am so thankful for his birthday, the day that God brought this amazing man into the world.

Happy birthday honey. I love you so much, and I don't know what I'd do without you.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A few words at the end

My grandpa is dying.

It all started when I was in sixth grade, and he went into the hospital and was diagnosed with COPD. He was told to stop smoking or he would die. He did stop smoking, and actually I think he has lived much longer than they expected.

However, it's come to that time, and it's pretty awful to think about. I haven't had a grandparent pass away. My aunt died from cancer, and my great-grandma died a few years ago, but I haven't been surrounded by much death in my life.

In "I Promise," a book I'm reading, the main character's grandfather passes away, and her friend tells her "he was a good man." I haven't seen it in my life, because my grandfather truly loves me, but I know that most of his life he hasn't been a good man.

But as the end comes, it makes me realize that God is so good. That's because at this time, all I want is to know that my grandpa has accepted Jesus and will go to heaven. It doesn't matter what he did in his life, what mistakes he made, how long he has waited to accept Christ. All that matters in the end is that we believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he gave his life for us on the cross. We can say it in our dying breath, and God, in his graciousness, will welcome us home.

We don't always know when we're going to die, so we need to be prepared, but it is still wonderful to know that there is always hope for us until our dying breath.

When I read in the book that saying "he was a good man," I realized that some people wouldn't say that about my grandpa. I stopped to think about what I want people to say about me when I die. I don't want them to balk and wonder about where I ended up. I don't want them to have to find good things to say about me. I want them to say that I was a wonderful woman who loved her family, loved God and gave selflessly.

If you can put into a few words what you want people to say when you die, because they will sum you up in just a sentence or a few words of condolence to your family, then you can figure out what your true goals are. You can find out who you want to be and what you should focus on.

A selfless wife, mother and God-lover. That's who I want to be.

And a God-lover is who I pray my grandpa becomes before the end.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy birthday

Turning 26 is no big deal. I'm fact comedian Patton Oswalt says you're inky asked to celebrate every decade after turning 21.

I'm not sure I agree with that. I know birthdays shouldn't be a big deal when you're my age, but growing up I always felt like a princess on my birthday. I had decorations, a special star-studded birthday plate, spice cake and more. I even got cake for breakfast the rest of the week, so the fun just kept going.

So now I am not demanding much, but I am going to make myself a cake and I am going to relax and drink coffee on the porch. It's one day a year people don't mind when you celebrate yourself, and I will enjoy it.

No matter their age, I will always make as much of a deal over my husband and children's birthdays as I can. My mom even hid a present for me when she was here last month so I could find it today.

It's not about finding presents, but birthdays should make you feel loved. And you're never too old for that.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sacrifice and temperature

This week's sermon was in being a good husband but it really was in successful marriage.

The pastor talked about how a husband is a thermostat and a wife a thermometer,  he sets the temp and she responds to it.

When people get upset with each other,  our first thought is to blame that other person, as I wrote about the other day. Before we got married, I read something that said we should look at how we are behaving because our spouse responds to that. If they are grouchy, maybe because you are. You respond to each other.

In the sermon, the pastor also talked about how we should sacrifice for each other, whether that be sleep or time or money. I know I need to get better at sacrificing sleep. I also thought how I need to read the Bible more and if a motivation of it being the right thing to do isn't working then a motivation of doing it for my family should. Reading the Bible will make me a better person and wife, so I should do it for my husband if for no other reason at this point.
Read bible as sacrifice for family

Thermostat and thermometer, when spouse not responding well, look at how you're acting instead of blaming them

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another's shoes

I sometimes have to stop and put myself in someone else's shoes.

Earlier this week, my neighbor dropped off a present at our back door. And by present, I mean a garbage bag of Novie's poop that she had found in her yard. I got a little frustrated at first that she felt she had to give us back these items, but then I realized if someone's dog were pooping in my yard I might not be so happy about it either.

Tonight, Nate went boating with a friend, and I wasn't invited. It wasn't that he specifically didn't invite me, but the friend invited Nate to a guy's night. I was a little sad to be left out, but then I thought how sometimes it's nice to have just a girls night, so why shouldn't they have a guy's night. I had gardening to do anyway.

Usually, our first reaction is of selfishness. How do we feel? If we run with that initial reaction, it could get us into trouble. Sometimes we have to just step back and think of others. How do they feel? Why did they do what they did? What if you were in their position?

It might help you feel angry a whole lot less if you just stop and think about someone other than yourself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Try it!

In the movie "Open Range," one of the cowboys spends a lot of money for fancy cigars and chocolate.

Nate loves this scene, because the cowboy says you shouldn't go through life without trying a little bit of everything.

I agree that trying new things is important. I never liked to branch out when I was younger, but Nate has always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and because I have some of my favorite foods and several new hobbies. I love that I am not afraid to do new stuff anymore.

I think people often regret when they get stuck in their lives. They want to be comfortable but also excited. You often have to be a little uncomfortable to have excitement though. It's scary to climb a cliff, to bungee jump or even to try sushi if you haven't before. But with that nervousness comes adrenaline, and when you're done there's a sense of accomplishment.

Next time the chance comes to try new things, take a chance and say yes. What's the worst that can happen? You don't like it? Big deal. You'll know for the future then!

Monday, May 19, 2014

"A Broken Kind of Beautiful" by Katie Ganshert

"After Sara's accident, so many well-intentioned people had offered her words of hope---that God would heal her, that she would see again---as if that was a given. It was the same hope people gave Marilyn all those years ago. Story upon story of women who had struggled through infertility and ended up with a child on the other side.

"'God is good. It'll happen,' they had told her.

"As if God's goodness depended on whether or not he answered prayers the way people wanted him to answer. The hard truth was that sometimes he didn't. He hasn't rescued Marilyn from her infertility, and he hadn't rescued Sara from her blindness. But that didn't negate his goodness. It just meant he had different plans."

I just finished "A Broken Kind of Beautiful" by Katie Ganshert. It was a great tale by a local author, and I was surprised by how smoothly it was written. I have found books by local authors often sound like someone trying to write, and it takes you out of the story. This was not like that.

It's the story of Ivy Clark, a New York model who lost her virginity at 14 and has tried to stay in control of life by using her good looks to control men. When she gets older, it doesn't work as well anymore and life gets complicated.

There's a couple of under stories though, one about a woman suffering from infertility and another about a woman suffering from recent blindness. It was the section above that really struck me. These women didn't get the answers they wanted from God, but they both dealt with their pain and looked for the good in life.

So often we assume God will answer our prayers how we want, and if not he has failed us. That's not true though. God knows what is best, whether it's what we want or not.

That doesn't mean we can't pray for what we want, but it does mean we should accept it if we don't get it.

Life doesn't always end up how we expect or want, but if our hearts are tied into God's, we can have faith that it's all for our good.

Monday, May 5, 2014


At work today, we got honeybees for a new exhibit. It's indoors, and the bees have a tube that allows them to go outside collect pollen and come back to the hive.

It is fascinating! The little creatures are constantly buzzing around, walking from cell to cell in the honeycomb, nothing but work on their minds.

They were only put in the hive today, but already they flew out and would come back in, their little pollen packs filled with beautiful yellow stuff. It looked like each of them were wearing MC Hammer pants, puffy on their thighs and tight around the ankle.

Why do they do it? Because that's what they were created to do. The worker bees only live about six weeks, and their lives are just about collecting pollen. That's what they do. That's how God made them.

When people ask us why we serve God, it's just as simple of an answer. It's what we were created to do. We were all made in the image of God, created to bring him pleasure and to praise him. We've fallen short of our purpose, but it all comes back around to the right track when we simply serve him. It might look like a bunch of crazy buzzing around sometimes, but when we're doing what we're created to do, we're happy --- no matter how it looks.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Time motivation

I have to say that the sermon at church this morning was very convicting for me.

Continuing on with lessons in Ephesians, the pastor talked about how to live a high impact life. One of the ways to do that is to spend our limited amount of time wisely.

He said to have goals, or at least one goal. I thought about how my goal is to honor first God and then my husband. All my decisions and the way I spend time should bring my closer to God or my husband, or at least should not detract from those relationships.

My two biggest time suckers are sleep and TV. Honestly, I am prone to laziness and the Bible says as a door turns on its hinged so does a sluggard in his bed. Sounds a little like me.

I decided I need to focus on sleeping less and need to not watch TV until after dinner so I get what needs to be done done.

I got home and watched TV and took a nap. I have a ways to go...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Raining, pouring

How did I see God today?

In the rain outside.

God has promised that seedtime and harvest will always exist. We will never be stuck in perpetual winter but will always have these seasons.

There's hope that the snow will melt and that winter will end. The weather is warming up and we have hope that a sunnier time is coming.

It's not just literal seasons either. When we go through a time of dark skies and cold in life, we have a hope that sunnier skies will return someday. And though it's cold, God is always with us.

Rain might not seem like the makings of a beautiful day, but it's a promise of what is in store in the future.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

God is at work

I was trying to think, what should I focus on to get me back into my blog again? I decided to start focusing on the little ways that I can see God in everyday life. That's what the name of my blog is about anyway, those everyday moments that don't seem to mean anything but in reality are what life is really about.

I see God at work in my marriage. It's a wonderful thing, and that's why I know my husband and I are going to make it. We are committed, and it's not just because we haven't been married very long. I can see that we both are making decisions to better the other person and our relationship, and that's only because we know that God has put us together and wants us to stay together.

The other day, I was feeling crabby. It wasn't really for any reason, other than PMS, and I started to ask my husband to do several things. I wasn't saying it in a mean way, but I also had a tone that I was annoyed about these things.

Nate asked if I was grumpy, because he didn't think he had done anything wrong, and I said I was and that I was PMSing.

Instead of him getting annoyed back at me or even ignoring me, he pulled me into a hug.

It just brought tears to my eyes (I know, this time of the month). But it's so special to have someone who loves you so much that they overlook your shortcomings and just love you some more.

God is at work in our marriage, in our lives. I'm so appreciative that he has brought us this far and that we can rely on him to bring us through anything that happens in the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Christian swearing

The pastor preached one of those sermons yesterday that will reach just about everybody in the audience, everybody that is listening that is.

He talked about 1. The way we handle sex and money must be notably different than the culture around us; 2. Our speech must be notably different than the culture around us; 3. Failing to take this seriously may have eternal consequences.

The part that hit me most was that our speech should be different than those around us. I grew up very averse to swearing, even asking people not to swear around me. (I know, I sound like a little goody-two-shoes). Then you grow up, and swearing doesn't seem like a big deal.

I don't swear often now, but those words do come out every once in a while.

It wasn't really swearing that the pastor talked about though. It was what he called "Christian swearing." That means when we replace "Oh my God" with "Oh my gosh" or when we say "Fudge" or "Crap" instead of swearing. Everyone knows what we mean. Often, they hear the real word in their head anyway, so it's not saving anyone by us using those fake replacements.

What would be really amazing would be if we didn't need to say those words at all. In moments of trouble, what if we didn't say anything? What if we learned true self-control and didn't have to spout something out? Or what if we really relied on God and the first things out of our mouths was a prayer?

When I thought about how I should clean up my tongue, my first thought was exactly that --- what do I say in those moments of anger, annoyance or pain? I have to say something, so shouldn't it be something that is a little cleaner than swearing?

I think it might be my next challenge to see if I can replace those exclamations with prayers, telling God that I need help instead of relying on some meaningless word to get me through.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Forgive and forget?

The struggle between forgiveness, retribution and vengeance is a confusing lot.

I won't go into details, but someone hurt my husband, and this man was found innocent by a court. I had prayed that this man would be held accountable for his actions, because that only seems fair, right? I was upset at that, but then I remembered the verse that says "vengeance is mine, says the Lord." So I know that this man will be held accountable eventually.

However, forgiveness is another matter. I can pray for this person, and ask that God will use this situation to turn their lives around, but do I want to walk up to him and start a conversation? No. Do I want to act like everything is all right? No. Can I let go and let God? Yes. I'm not sure where the line lies between forgiving and acting like everything is just fine.

I thought, this person deserves to be punished. He doesn't deserve to get off scott free. Then listening to the pastor's sermon yesterday, he pointed out that we don't deserve to get off scott free either.

How many times have I hurt someone? Maybe it hasn't been physically, but I've emotionally injured people by being harsh or criticizing or being downright mean. I don't deserve for them or God to forgive me for those actions, but I have been forgiven. If I have been forgiven, I need to also forgive.

Does that mean I should give up wanting this person to be held accountable? I don't know.

I guess I want to do what's right, but I still want this person to be held accountable. I don't know if this means I'm not completely forgiving or if it's OK to want this person to feel bad about what happened and repent. I mean God asks us to repent, right?

This is one of those blogs where I don't have any answers. I'm just putting it out there that I'm honestly not sure what to do about this issue.

I need to pick back up with my blogging. It's spring, and everything is becoming new again. Why not my blog?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 years ago today

It was 10 years ago today that I was only 15 years old, had never had a boyfriend and had never been kissed.

A junior at my high school had asked me out about a month ago, and we had spent each weekend together since. We went to a friends' house, saw the movie "Miracle" and held each other's sweating hand throughout the film and we later hung out instead of going to Turnabout --- although Nate had been invited by a friend of his.

We had hung out in each other's basements, and I knew that Nate wanted to kiss me, but I hadn't let him yet. I just acted like I didn't know what he wanted and let him kiss me on the cheek as I stared straight ahead and didn't make eye contact.

It was a few weeks later --- March 26, 2004, to be exact --- and we were in Nate's basement. We were watching some movie, and I got the feeling that Nate was going to try to kiss me again.

OK, Kiley. Just turn your head.

I stared straight forward.

Turn your head.

I stared straight forward.

Turn your head.

I turned my head.

Nate kissed me on the lips, and my heart started to beat out of control. My first kiss!

Then my mind started to race, and I freaked out mentally. I couldn't see what was going on the TV screen anymore, and as I put on my shoes that were sitting by the oak kitchen door, getting ready to go home, I wasn't talking.

Nate opened the door of his blue Oldsmobile Cutlass, and I slid onto the blue, matted bench seat. I still couldn't make myself open my mouth.

I don't want to be kissing a guy that isn't even my boyfriend. How do I tell him that? He hasn't asked me to be his girlfriend, but this is going against everything I thought. I don't want to ask him out, but I can't keep kissing him if we're not dating.

The thoughts kept coming as we drove out of his neighborhood, turned right, turned right again and again. Nate kept looking at me.

Just say it, Nate, I don't want to kiss a guy that I'm not dating.

"Are you OK?" Nate asked, looking sideways at me.


Just say it. You're getting closer to home, you don't have much time. Nate, I don't want to kiss a guy that I'm not dating.

"Are you OK?" Nate asked again.

Say it.

Say it.

Kiley, say it.

"I don't want to kiss you if we're not dating."

"I thought we were," Nate said. "Do you want to?"

"Yes. Do you?"


A big smile spread across my youthful face as all the stress floated away. Nate smiled back at me, his gorgeous smile full of braces-covered teeth.

We bumped up the gravel road to my house and he stopped in the driveway.

"Thanks," I said.

I ran inside and up to my parents room, going to my mom's side of the bed, where she was reading while my dad snoozed.

"I have a boyfriend."

It was 10 years ago today that I was 15, had my first kiss and had my first boyfriend.

It's 10 years later, and I've had lots of kisses, but only from one man. I only had one boyfriend, who became my fiancé and my husband. It's been 10 years, but it's still only the beginning.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A spontaneous trip and some time together

Life often moves faster than we expect, especially as we get older it seems.

With overtime shifts, evening meetings, dance class and other activities in our lives, it feels like Nate and I have hardly seen each other this week. Two nights in a row, I was talking to my mom on the phone when I got home and told her I had just missed Nate or I waved at him while I was pulling in and he was leaving.

We're incredibly busy, and we don't even have kids!

Last night, we decided to drive to a nearby city and just spend time together out of the house. We went to Sam's Club and stopped by the mall to return some items and got some dinner with gift cards we had in my wallet. We ended the night by stopping at a casino on the way home - we're not gamblers often, but we do it for entertainment sometimes - and won $22.

It was nice to just have some time to be together. It didn't matter where we went or what we did, we just needed to set aside some time together.

Setting aside time to be together can really get difficult in this day and age, and you have to be aware of it. On Friday night, I thought about holding a make-up dance lesson, but then I realized that was the only evening Nate and I would have together, so I moved it back a week.

Time together is also a reason that I consciously decide not to get involved in too much stuff. People say "yes" to this club and that organization and this activity and that sport, and pretty soon they never see their families or friends. It doesn't make for a happy life, it makes for a stressful life.

I used to think it was weird when my parents would just go for a drive. Why would you want to get in the car and not go anywhere? I get it now. When we were driving last night, it was a time to talk and laugh and listen to music and just take some time to be together. It's not about where you're going but who you're going with.

It's getting harder and harder to find time together, so that time becomes precious. I really encourage everyone else to think about how they spend their time and start saying "no" to a few more activities so they can start saying "yes" to their families. That's what is important in life.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Say no to sin?

We think sin leads to happiness.

If my husband leaves the light on and I angrily bring it up and tell him he's wasting electricity and always leaving stuff in when I ask him not to, I think it's going to feel good. I think getting my anger out will make me feel better.

Sin doesn't lead to happiness I'm the long run though. It will ultimately hurt us, our relationships with others and our relationship with God.

Getting mad at my husband might feel good for a moment but then I can feel his annoyance at me for my impatience or his own anger that I bring up his mistakes when I make plenty of my own. My moment of happiness had become a small roadblock between us, doing nothing to help our relationship.

I mIght decide to stop bringing these topics up, but I can still feel the anger welling up in my heart when the lights have been left on after my husband has been home for hours. Eventually I need a release and will bring it up and let my anger win again.

Martin Luther called sin the ultimate form of cannibalism because it will destroy you, binding you to where it's going.

So how do I stop going back to anger and sinning?


It's not about standing our ground, because we will fail.

We shouldn't stop, we should run in the opposite direction, which is to Jesus. The Holy Spirit will give us new affection for Jesus, and we will want to enjoy Jesus rather than trying not to enjoy sin.

In Robin Jones Gunn's Christy Miller series, a character talks about saying he's rather than no. When he accepted Christ he said "no" to his old way of life and sin. But that left him empty. He had to start saying yes to Jesus and what Jesus wanted him to do.

Growing in Jesus will help you not just stand against sin but to get rid of the desire for your sin.

Don't just say no to whatever sin pages you, say yes to Jesus. Live for him and the desire to live for yourself and your own feelings will slip away over time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gift of a name

When I spell out my last name now, it's a whole lot easier than my maiden name.

For one thing, it's half the letters. Secondly, these letters don't need sounded out phonetically because they don't sound similar to other letters like the ones in my maiden name.

Those were definite perks to changing my last name when I got married, but it's not the main reason to change your name when you marry.

Taking on your husband's name is a gift from him. He has given you a ring and said "I do" in his marriage vows, but sharing a last name is like him telling the world that you are his and he is yours. You are a new family that is united not only by law and in spirit but in name. You are one.

It has become more and more popular for women to keep their maiden name or to hyphenate when they marry. That never occurred to me to do, and I know that Nate wouldn't have liked that. Even when women put their maiden name in parentheses on Facebook, we see it that they're hanging on to their single identity. (People can still search for you by your maiden name even if it's not in parentheses after your name).

For some women, they want that sense of independence. They think that taking on their husbands name puts them in a servant role, that they give up who they are.

You do.

That is what marriage is all about. You should give up your independence and put yourself in a servant role. Not just the woman, but the man as well. Getting married means that you are no longer yourself, you are now a pair. Everything you do, every decision you make becomes what you do for the two of you, not just for yourself. Even sharing a name is a reminder that you are now totally and completely one.

For some couples, it's easier to not change your name in case of divorce. It takes a lot of time and effort to change your name. There's not only a passport and a drivers license, there are credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, student loans, mortgages --- the list goes on and on. What if you get divorced and then have to go back and change all of that again because you want to have your maiden name back?

That is the exact opposite of what you should be thinking when you get married. You should not go into a marriage expecting or even preparing for it to fail. That is something that is hugely wrong in our society. Marriage is not convenient and it is not temporary. It is forever. Even if something eventually goes wrong, you deal with it. You don't give up. Don't make getting divorced easy or it could even be a temptation to just give up, because it's easier than working out your problems.

Women, think of changing your name not as difficult or giving up yourself. Think of it as a gift exchanged between the two of you. It is a gift from him to you, a deep part of himself. It is him claiming you as his, forever. It is a gift from you to him, giving up your maiden name and your single life to tie yourself to him, forever.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bahamas: Part VI

I'm a little behind in the blogging, because I started a new job this week! But here's the next segment of our vacation.

I think we can sum up our final two days of vacation with one word, relaxation.

In St. Lucia, we only had four days on the island, and they weren't even four complete days due to traveling. That meant I wanted to fit in everything possible in that short amount of time. It was fun, but we didn't necessarily just lay around and relax to the max.

Thursday, we ordered room service for breakfast again. I wanted to try the yogurt parfait, because I had one at the buffet the day before and it was delicious. However, it wasn't quite the same when it came to our room. However, I also ordered some croissants, and Nate was over-the-moon about how delicious they were. The resort has an actual French chef who certainly knows his way around pastry.

The rest of the day literally was spent on the beach. We read our books all morning, then we ate lunch at the little cafe — and after we left apparently the seagulls ravaged my leftover French fries — and then we spent the afternoon on the beach again.

We had reservations at the French restaurant for dinner, and after getting dressed we went down to the pier. We snagged a little table and two glasses of wine, and then we watched as waves started to crash onto the beach, higher than we had seen so far.

Thursday provided a huge storm for Florida, but we had seen on the radar earlier that day that it curved around and just missed the Bahamas. We figured the waves coming in were remnants of the storm that were reaching our little island.

When it was late enough, we headed to the restaurant. Our table overlooked one of the pools, but the nighttime dew had clouded up the glass so we really couldn't see anything. We ordered crab cakes to start with, and they were fantastic. They were quite different than what we have usually had, with a sauce that provided a little bit of sweetness. Then Nate ordered lobster tails, and I had duck. Both entrees were fabulous, and that's one of the best parts of being in an all-inclusive resort, you can order what would be the most expensive items on the menu and not worry about paying for it!

Friday we had breakfast in the French restaurant, and I downed another delicious parfait — this one with Greek yogurt and fresh honey, yum — and Nate ate about six croissants smothered with the jam provided on the table.

We lounged on the beach, went sailing and finally met for our snorkeling appointment. The boat took us out to a different spot than it had been going the rest of the week due to the huge waves that were still rolling in after the nearby storm.

Nate and I tried to hold hands as we swam about, but the choppy water wasn't conducive, and he had a tear in his flipper that made it harder for him to swim without losing the appendage. We saw a fish that had turquoise and hot pink scales, striped fish, blubbery fish and tiny, darting fish. Someone brought a can of spray cheese and it sprayed pieces that looked like little worms in the water, so a school of fish quickly crowded around us. I could almost touch them.

That afternoon, we came across one of the couples we met earlier in the week and spent the day chatting with them in the pool. We even tried the hot tub when the sun went down, but it ended up being a little too warm so we just sat around the bubbling water.

We had planned on going to the final restaurant we hadn't tried for dinner, but honestly we were tired and ended up ordering room service and staying in our room all night.

When we stayed in our room, my instinct was to feel guilty because I should be enjoying the outdoors while on a tropical vacation. However, I decided it was our vacation and if that's what felt good then that's what we should do.

So, looking back, I'm glad we just relaxed. It was a completely rejuvenating vacation and one we'll look back on with fond memories.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bahamas: Part V

In St. Lucia, we didn't dare travel outside the bounds of Sandals, because the entire island looked a little sketchy for tourists. In the Bahamas, we felt a little safer so we decided to go downtown to a couple of tourist destinations we read about.

We left pretty early on Wednesday morning, although we had to address the fact that at some point I lost our Sandals id cards, and we went outside the resort to catch the No. 10 bus. We saw a bus station across the street by Burger King — I guess American fast food is everywhere — but none going in the direction that we wanted. So we crossed the street and caught a bus that said it would take us downtown.

A few more people joined us, and then most got off at the downtown stop that included the famous Nassau straw market.

I wanted to purchase something for my mom and mother-in-law as well as look for a holiday ornament like I have gotten on our other vacations and something to set on the accent table that Nate had just made for our living room.

And I wanted to do it all on $30, because we forgot to hit the ATM in the U.S. before we left and that's all the cash that we had.

We started to walk around the straw market and attempted to avert our eyes from the vendors that were calling at us the moment our strides started to slow. I read a review that said do not stop and look at anything or talk to them, because they will not leave you alone. So I tried to see what they had to offer without slowing or looking interested, it was difficult.

Nate said I should employ his dad's trick, that whenever anyone would talk to him he says, "Hot coffee," so they just think he's insane and stop bothering him. We did say it, but mostly to ourselves, because we felt ridiculous.

I saw a beautiful wooden flower at several vendors and thought it would look good on our accent table, so I was ready to make a deal. A woman said it was $40 and gave me the sales pitch about how amazing it was.

It was pretty, but No. 1 it wasn't worth $40 and No. 2 we didn't $40.

"I'm thinking more like $5," I said.

She said she couldn't do that and again told me it was made of mahogany and the petals came off for travel and she could go down a little bit.

"OK, I'll give you $10."

She didn't like that and said no lower than $30. Well, I couldn't give her all our money and didn't think the flower was worth it, so we walked away.

Within five minutes, we tired of the people calling us "Sexy" and "Beautiful" and trying to get us to buy crap we didn't want, so we left.

We started to walk down the street and went into a souvenir shop, in which we found a similar flower to the one I had bartered for, and it was $19.95. I knew I was being ripped off earlier.

Down a couple of stores, there was a linen shop and it had a Christmas Village inside, so I went in search of my ornament. We had checked the gift shop at Sandals before we left and saw that ornaments cost about $20. Many in this shop were around that price, but a group of handpainted balls were only $9. They were pretty and even handmade, so I purchased one as our memorabilia.

We knew we would need some change for the bus fare back, so Nate stopped in Dunkin' Donuts — exotic yes? — and purchased a bottle of Dasani water. We hoofed it up a couple of blocks to Graycliff Hotel, where Nate had read about Cuban cigars made there.

The story is that Fidel Castro's own cigar roller started a cigar business at Graycliff, and the people making the cigars today are still all Cuban. It's basically a Cuban cigar but made in the Bahamas, so it's legal to bring in to the U.S.

Graycliff is supposed to be a five-star hotel, but when we walked in, we were a little shocked. It was old, but very pretty. The grounds were covered in trees, and a path wound around to the different destinations outside. We found that not only does it have a cigar-rolling place but also a whiskey distillery, a chocolate shop and several restaurants.

The place was huge, and there were seating areas everywhere. But there were no people. It was like being in a ghost town.

We found the cigar shop, watched people roll them — but they acted like they wanted to be left alone — and purchased several to bring back home. We then got lost trying to find out way back out, and when we left we decided to head back to Sandals. We were not liking being out in a strange place with no protection and wanted to get back to the gated resort.

We caught the No. 10 bus, and by caught I mean we literally jumped in a bus that was passing by as the driver slowed down for us, and I was sitting on the plastic-covered seat in my sundress thinking how I was starting to sweat in the heat of the sun coming in the open doorway. A native in front of us reached over and tried to close the door, but it was strapped back.

The driver asked her if she wanted to move to the back of the bus and slowed down so she could switch seats to get out of the "wind" that was making her cold. COLD! I cracked up that she could think this weather was cold.

The afternoon was spent lounging in the sun, with not a care in the world.

That evening we had hibachi, and although it was fun and a good try, the Bahamian man making it just didn't quite have that Asian edge.

We went to bed satisfied and excited that we still had two full days of vacation left.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bahamas: Part IV

One of the perks of our "upgrade" was having room service, for which the menu was conveniently forgotten in our room.

However, we woke up on Tuesday morning and didn't want to get out of bed to go get breakfast. I called the room service extension, and the woman on the other end of the line offered to read me the menu. We ordered two breakfast sandwiches and some fresh fruit.

The server came to our room within minutes, we scarfed down our food, put the TV and fell back asleep.

In fact, we slept until about 2 p.m.

That was when I woke up and thought my stomach was going to eat itself if I didn't go get some food, so I put on a swimsuit, packed our beach bag, told Nate I was leaving if he wanted to come with me - he did not - and then I headed out.

The chicken, bacon, alfredo pizza in the pizza shop's warmer was absolutely delicious, and I took my stocked plate down to the beach. Unfortunately the seagulls thought my food looked good as well, and I had to sit up and shoo my book at them every few seconds, but I didn't mind much.

It's hard to mind anything when you are sitting on a sandy beach in January with the sun beating down on you, eating pizza you didn't have to buy (at least then) while looking out on a turquoise-colored ocean.

I giggled as smaller birds attempted to make their way toward me without incurring the wrath of the seagulls, and I would try to stealthily feed them pizza crust without the seagulls seeing. The little birds were cute, seagulls are just nosy and mean.

After about an hour and a half, I finally spotted Nate coming from the room. He had been looking for me for quite a while but I was sitting on the farthest beach, and we hadn't been there yet. I liked that beach because not as many people were over there and it was quiet, even if it was only 30 feet away from the beach on the other side of the dock.

It felt like bugs were starting to bite on the beach as soon as the sun was starting to go down, so we went inside and got changed for dinner.

After dark, we were dressed in our finest and headed over to the island for our dinner reservations. It was cool, yet not cold, and beautiful. We had scallops, a stewed fish that tasted like pot roast, and a dessert that oddly combined chocolate and grapefruit.

We sauntered along the island paths after dinner, watched a lion fish swim around the dock and finally headed back to the main island.

A reggae band was playing, but Nate wasn't huge on it so instead we went into the piano bar and sang along for a while.

Another beautiful night, and we still had plenty of days of vacation left to enjoy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bahamas: Part III

We woke up the next morning, refreshed and ready to really start our vacation.

After a half hour, we were dressed in beach ware and stepped outside. It was about 7:45 a.m., and we smiled when we realized we were up before pretty much everyone else at the resort. Workers were scrubbing the pool area, and one guy was actually in the pool scrubbing the sides down with a scrub brush --- talk about cleanliness.

We wanted to hit up the French restaurant for breakfast. Nate and I are not buffet people, so we don't really go for the brunch buffet that is so popular with others. We wanted a sit-down breakfast, but the restaurant wasn't open yet so we waited about 10 minutes in the sun before we were seated.

Of course the best way to start a vacation is with eggs Benedict and fresh coffee. The restaurant was beautiful. Because it only had 14 tables, it was quiet and private. Our table was in front of a floor-to-ceiling window that looked out on another pool and the patio outside the buffet restaurant.

After breakfast — it wasn't even 9 a.m. yet — we walked down to the water activities station. I wanted to try out a water trike, but they didn't let any equipment go until 9 a.m. We walked down by the beach, stuck our toes in the chilly ocean water and then decided we would take the first ferry to Sandals' private island.

It was only about a three minute ride, and after disembarking from the boat we took a quick walk around. It was meant to be a leisurely stroll, but once we saw a hammock overlooking the beach and the open ocean, we picked up our pace to claim it before someone else did.

It was kind of comical trying to get into a hammock, and it's good that we are married, because you don't want to be that close with someone else. The sun was shining, our pale legs were glowing in the brightness and we were absolutely content.

Nate took this photo and laughed when he realized you couldn't even see his foot in it, because it blended in perfectly with the pale hammock material.

After an hour or so of laying around, I started to get antsy. We took a walk around the beach, found a sand dollar in the water — but Nate didn't want to kill it so we gently laid it down again in ocean's home — and we took a few pictures.

We ate lunch on the island and then headed back to the mainland, or the main island I guess it would be called.

We tried out a water trike, which was much less fun than I anticipated because it was a lot of work and it hardly moved when you pedaled.

Then we headed back to our room to shower and change for the wine tasting class we had signed up for.

That was super interesting. A man who had been working in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years instructed us on how to see if a wine is young or aged — depending on the color of the top of the wine. A pink color on top means the red wine is young, and a watery film on top of a white wine means the same thing.

We tried various kinds of wine to see how the flavor changed with food, which was fascinating. Peppery salmon calmed down the pinot grigio, while lime accented its flavor. Different kinds of cheese also changed the taste.

After the wine class, we started chatting with two other couples that were seated next to us. One was from Ohio, and one was from Canada. We laughed when the Canadian couple said that we pronounced decal wrong — they say deckle — and we chatted about pets and vacations and jobs. It was an enjoyable evening. In fact, we talked for so long they almost missed their dinner reservations.

Nate and I didn't have a reservation for that night, so we went to the Italian restaurant where we scarfed down lamb chops. Nate was so hungry he just picked it up and ate it off the bone.

A stop at the pub and so ended our first real day of vacation.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Bahamas: Part II

We were shown to the little pizzeria, overlooking the turquoise Atlantic Ocean. The smell of wood fired pizza filled the air. People chatted as they enjoyed their vacation. Nate and I started to sweat under the heat of the tropical sun.

We didn't really even have to look at the menu, because we knew we wanted to seafood pizza. It was our favorite at the pizzeria in St. Lucia, and the shrimp-crab concoction was just as delicious in the Bahamas.

We waited probably 15 minutes for our food to be ready, and I could feel my skin getting warm in the sun. I pulled my tank top strap back, and it was as I feared, I was already getting tan and this was going to be a weird tan line. But I shouldn't complain, because my pale, ginger of a husband can't tan at all. He just turns a sunny shade of red if he isn't careful to apply his sunscreen.

After lunch, we walked around to get a view of the resort, played a little snooker by the Cricketer's Pub and went back to the concierge lounge to see if our room was ready. After about a half hour, someone finally showed us to our room.

It was gorgeous. It was a suite with a king-size bed, sitting area, modern bathroom with clear doors and glass tile. There were even spotlights in the shower stall shining down on the glass shelves made for toiletries.

We immediately walked over the patio to see our view.

About two weeks before we left, we got a call from Sandals saying that we could upgrade to the concierge level suite for only $200 for the week. It included our private concierge, a suite instead of a small room and an ocean view instead of a garden view.

We kind of giggled when we opened the patio doors. We could barely see the ocean above some trees, unless we hung our heads off our patio, and then we could see it rippling in the distance. Below us was a construction site, as Sandals was creating swim-up pools to the first floor below. It wasn't exactly what we were expecting for an upgrade, but oh well.

We were afraid to take a nap, since we figured if we fell asleep after being up for so long we wouldn't wake up. Instead, we showered and went out to enjoy the ocean.

About dinner time we headed to the Cricketer's Pub, and Nate enjoyed bangers and mash while I had fish and chips. We played a little more snooker and then decided it was time to head up to our room.

When we finally went to sleep, I looked at the clock. I was impressed that we had stayed up so late after being awake for 35 hours or so. I thought it was probably 9, a little early but not bad for a travel day.

The clock was dim, and I had to get close to read it.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Phil's Take

I am proud to say I'm actually an inspiration to someone! My brother-in-law started his own blog after reading mine, and I feel so blessed that someone actually cares enough about what I say to want to try their own hand at blogging.

Check out Phil's blog here, and then you can continually find it in the pages sidebar!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Bahamas: Part I

I think it's time I finally caught up blogging about our vacation, since it was almost a month ago already!

It was a scary time the week before. Although leaving the cold in January seemed like a good idea, the week before we flew out was spent on checking to see if it would blizzard when we were supposed to leave.

It ended up that a snowstorm was supposed to start at about 5 a.m. on the Sunday we were to fly out of Chicago, and our flight was scheduled for 5:45 a.m.

We left Nate's parents house extra early and arrived at O'Hare at about 1 a.m., thinking we would just chill in the terminal before our plane boarded. Well, neither of us had arrived at an airport at that time of night and found that the ticket counter was closed when we arrived.

We took a seat on the cold tile floor, grabbed a deck of cards and played two games of cribbage. We munched on snacks provided by his parents, took turns walking around to stretch our legs, laughed at a hipster who showed up in skinny jeans tucked into ankle boots with a T-shirt and rubber-looking suspenders. He looked ridiculous, and I snapped pictures of him with Nate's iPhone.

The ticket counter didn't open until 3 a.m., and then security didn't open until almost 4 a.m., so once we got our tickets we had to wait in a line at security. There wasn't a priority lane at that security gate, so the $30 we spent on being able to go through priority was well spent...not.

The snow had already started, and our plane was covered as it sat by the gate. We were plenty early, so once we scoped out the location of our gate, we went to Starbucks and got some coffee. By that time, I had been up since 11 a.m. and I was starting to get jittery after drinking the coffee.

We boarded, and once we were de-iced and took off, I leaned on Nate to try and get some sleep. My body wasn't having it and every five minutes I twitched and woke myself up.

Once we reached Charlotte, I was really jittery from lack of sleep. I ate the tuna that Nate's dad packed in our lunch as a joke, which I enjoyed, and then it was time to board.

Next stop...The Bahamas!

We got there, and it was sunny and beautiful. I swear the airport terminal actually smelled like a pool. It was like the tropics couldn't even stay out of the building.

It's obvious they have tourism down pat. It took 10 minutes to get through customs and then 5 more minutes until we checked in with Sandals. They put tags on our bags, loaded us onto a bus and 15 minutes later we arrived.

We were early for room check-in, so Nate went to drop off our bags by the front desk since they offered to give us a tour and bring us to lunch while we were waiting. The woman I talked to apologized that it was kind of chilly out.

It was 72 degrees. She was almost shivering.

I laughed and said when we left home it was 7, and it had been colder.

She just looked at me, shocked.

My hair was greasy. I had no make-up on. I was in jeans in the tropical heat.

It was going to be a good vacation.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Not quite the best night of my life

It was two years ago Tuesday that Nate proposed to me during an O.A.R. concert, and I wrote a blog post on it called "Best Night of My Life."

It was, up to that point. But then we got married, and that was the highlight. There might be other nights in the future that I call the best night of my life, but really I shouldn't qualify what's the best night and what isn't. Our wedding was wonderful, but cuddling up next to my husband and watching TV is also perfectly special on those nights when you just need some down time.

It's about the overall life. I'm having the best life, and my husband has made it that for me. I don't know what I'd do without him; I love him so much.

Take a little trip back with me and read about our engagement here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Narrowing down the options

"U.S. teens more stressed than adults" a FoxNews headline read today.


I could have told you that the teenagers I see are more stressed than adults, and there's a good reason - they're too busy!

The high school girls that I teach in dance have a terrible attendance record, and I have heard an enormous amount of excuses: Basketball and volleyball games, cheering for basketball games and wrestling meets, show choir, jazz choir, choir and band concerts, theatre, driver's ed, too much homework to do because they have been at other activities all evening, headache because they got up at 5 a.m. to make 6 a.m. practice...

The list goes on and on.

When I hit high school, I also was involved in a ton of stuff. I tried mock trial, cheerleading, choir, fall and spring theatre productions. Plus I was in dance class, had church youth group and I had all my schoolwork.

My sophomore year, my mom told me to pick the one thing I liked best and to stick with it. On top of having to do school, she said that it's best to give your all to something than to give everything a part of you. I chose dance. I was on the dance team at school and took dance class one night each week. I still had church and school, so that was plenty for my plate but still allowed me sleep and some time with friends.

Why are kids so busy? Why do parents pressure them to do everything? It's a better lesson to learn how to manage your time than to get experience in everything, especially if you don't love everything you're doing.

Yes, colleges want to see a well-rounded person. However, that also means a person who knows what it means to live, not just to eat and sleep at home while spending every other moment at school for some activity or another. No one expects you to do everything. It's not possible.

The lesson I learned in high school has helped me throughout my life. In college, I gave up dance team because I wanted to focus on the newspaper, because I knew that would lead to a better job after college. In my adult life, I've learned that I can't be involved in every organization and volunteer for everything people ask me to, because it's important to have balance. My family is my priority, and that means saying "No" to activities and sometimes even to friends.

I think a lot of it is parents. I would have continued trying to do too much in high school had my mom not made me think about my priorities and how important it is to give your 100 percent. I wouldn't want to see any of my dancers go, but I also want them to be happy and to put their effort toward what they truly enjoy rather than trying to do everything.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dating your daughter

I was working on a story about a local father-daughter dance, and it sounded like so much fun.

The little girls not only get to dress up and go to a dance, but they get to make sundaes and crafts with their dads as well as get their faces and nails painted by high school and college-aged girls. I told the promoter that I wish I was younger so I could go with my dad.

I remember growing up a friend of mine bought a pretty dress each year to go to the country club father-daughter dance, and if I remember that, how strong are her memories about those times with her dad?

My dad also took me out for dates. I remember going to Dairy Queen and out to a movie when I was really little. Although he didn't go, he bought me a corsage for homecoming when I didn't have a date, and he gave me a ring with a heart-shaped key on it because he said I had the key to his heart. Even a couple of years ago we went out just the two of us for ribs at our favorite barbecue joint back home. Those memories are precious, and I'll never forget that my dad spent quality time with me.

The organization here throwing the father-daugther dance said that relationship is important because studies have shown that girls get their value from the value that their father places on them. My dad always made me feel beautiful, smart and worthwhile, and I'm so blessed that he gave me such inner confidence.

I think it's great that organizations want to encourage dads to spend quality time with their daughters, and I think it's important for dads to not only do that once a year but to set up occasional father-daughter dates with their little girls, just like my dad did.

Thanks Dad, for showing me that I was worthwhile and for creating wonderful memories with me. You've helped make me who I am today! I love you!