Monday, June 29, 2015

Tonight Is Going To Be Interesting....

We all like to talk about ourselves, admit it.

That's why, when I meet someone, I like to find a subject that person and I may relate on to talk about.

A while ago (I will not disclose when), I met a DJ.

I love talking about music. I love dancing to music. DJ's typically love music and witness people dance along to it. Because of this, I thought this DJ and I had found a common ground and this was a safe topic to discuss.

Me: "I've recently discovered that there is a difference between the Bernie and the Wobble. It was pretty embarrassing to find out that I have been doing the Bernie during the Wobble, so I made sure to watch YouTube videos and practice doing the RIGHT moves to the RIGHT song.

DJ: (walking away) "Tonight is going to be interesting...."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Day The Music Died

Sometimes, a memory isn't enough.

I don't get to hear his voice. I don't get to feel his presence.

Then, there are rare moments when I feel him with me again.

For me, when I listen to "American Pie" by Don McLean, I get to feel my dad's presence again.

I hear him singing along. I see visions of his silly dancing. I see him tapping along on the steering wheel. I cry the whole time. but he's with me. And I'm so, so thankful for those moments.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Girl and Her Shoes

I grew up in Aurora, Illinois. When I was in fifth grade, the coolest shoes to own were the Nike Air Force One's. (This was a year before the infamous song came out).

(Google tells me these are the prized Air Force One's we all longed to own---this was also the time before Nike Shox)

Seeing that I spent most of my elementary school life as the tall, skinny girl who refused to talk to anyone, I didn't have very many moments that I felt very "cool."

Then, one night, my parents took me shoe shopping. I found the much cheaper shoe called the Nike Ace '83. They fit all of my standards for shoes (that I still keep today)--cheap, plain, and comfy.

These are the shoes I picked---size 5.

And then, I went to school. I literally had a group of 5-6 guys around my feet talking about my shoes. "KELSEY, YOUR SHOES ARE AWESOME!" "KELSEY, ARE YOUR PARENTS RICH?" "KELSEY, WOWWWWW!"

I was so excited.

And then I was asked, "those ARE the new Air Force One's, right?"

To which I was like. "No! They are Ace 83's! Aren't they awesome?"

Collectively, they responded, "Oh, never mind."

Every time I buy a new pair of shoes, I find myself asking my husband what he thinks about them. I think  I still hope that one day I will redeem myself.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

You're In The Doghouse

Sometimes, my husband will say or do something that lands him in the proverbial doghouse. 

Focusing on my anger and frustration makes it very easy to create an imaginary "to do" list he must accomplish before he is able to come out. 

Some of this is conditioning from the thousands of times I have been grounded (yes, I was grounded a lot-my own fault).  Mostly, this is due to my lack of desire to show the same grace to my husband that I know was given to him (and me) in Christ.

Will he ever REALLY do enough to "earn" my love and forgiveness?
How do I expect (and hope for) him to respond when I mess up? (And I do...a lot)

Sometimes making mistakes is humbling and a cause to repent, but other times being on the other side-the one struggling to forgive- is just as humbling and reason enough to repent(x500). 

It's time to knock the doghouse down for good. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

LISTEN TO ME! (please?)

I tried to see if there was a phobia for people who are scared to not be able to voice their opinion to others, because if so, I probably have it.

I have a lot of opinions. I like to share them (for better or for worse).

We all have something to prove though, don't we? We are out to prove our "tolerance" or our "disgust." We are out to prove our "wisdom" or our "free spirit." We are out to prove our value and worth. We long for our opinions to be heard and respected. We long to have a voice that advocates and produces change.

But, we all want different things. The same strength lies within each of us, yet produces different outcomes. One's success is another's failure.

What are we measuring?
What are we proving?
What are we accomplishing?

I don't think it's a mistake that we have all be given a will and desire to see justice, change, and freedom in our culture. But, I often ask myself, is it often misguided? (Even WITH the best intentions?) Do we have so much of a microscopic and limited focus that we fail to see the bigger picture? As a Believer, I ask myself, do I focus too much on the "matters of this world?" Where is the line of "matters of this world" and "matters of heaven?"

And then I remember-- He has already overcome it all.

He is more powerful than any strength or power I may posses.
He is more loving and patient than I am ever capable of being.
He produces more change than any "progress" I can ever take credit for.

This morning, I prayed that He would teach me to pray and advocate for His will. (And no, that will not be followed by condemning everyone who disagrees with me or how I feel He is calling me.) I asked that He would teach me to love and forgive those who try to hurt me in the name of disagreeing. I asked for a mind that would seek Him above all other wisdom or knowledge presented to me. I asked for a voice that is okay with silence---an ability to listen and not have to share my opinion immediately afterwards. Lastly, I asked for a heart that can love others---regardless of my opinion about their life or choices. (I'm not going to deny that my own opinions will forever exist :))

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Shameless Post About Confidence

I can never remember where to place my hand on my hip so my arm doesn't look fat in pictures.

My hair has an easier time making decisions than I do. (Too bad that decision always involves frizz)

My muscles are not perfectly defined.

Some days I have no chin, and then there are other days that I have 2-3 chins. 

I hate spending more than 10 minutes on my makeup and more than 5 minutes on my hair. (Most days, I don't even wear make up). 

Some days, my stomach is content to lay subtle and is easily hidden by clothing, and other days it has secret competitions with my arms to see how far it can extend from my body.  

That list is nowhere near exhaustive, but because I am a normal female, I notice my flaws. Some days, I embrace my flaws and feel beautiful, and other days those same flaws distract me from what really matters and let me caught up in comparisons, jealousy, and frustration. 

Confidence in myself or in my body does not mean I love 100% about myself 100% of the time. True body confidence also does not look at my own body type and think it is better because of it's significant curves or lack-thereof. 

Confidence in my body is also not measured by the amount of men that pursue or compliment me. Because I am married, this looks a whole lot different than when I was single, but I understand the desire to be wanted or found beautiful whether it is just from your husband, or if you're not married, from other men.  (I do believe true confidence in a marriage context involves not desiring and seeking attention from other men, while at the same time not expecting your confidence and worth to come 100% from your husband. True confidence is found in ourselves.)

My confidence comes from multiple places. 

My confidence comes from making good choices for my health and well-being. When I eat a nutrient-dense diet and exercise (even minimally), I feel better about myself. My mind is clearer, my body heals faster, and there is a natural confidence that comes from that feeling of "I'm treating myself well."

My confidence comes from accepting myself for who I am. By making peace with myself, flaws and all, I am able to give a little grace to my body and all that it does every day to keep me going. 

My confidence comes from other women who support and encourage me-- women who struggle with some of the same things I do and find strength in the midst of it, women who have struggled with much harder obstacles and overcome them with grace and beauty, and women who lift me up and point me to Something greater.

My confidence comes from the freedom found in Christ---a freedom that shows me that there is so much more than outward beauty and a love that transforms all the ugliness inside and makes it beautiful. 

My confidence comes from my inability to always hold it together, because I fail, all of the time. My confidence comes from my ability to trust the One who holds me close through it all. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Let's Support Each Other

I don't write about being a military spouse very often, but this topic is something I feel very passionate about because, well, I hope to be what I want from others.

I was going to start by mentioning the longest amount of time I've had to spend away from my husband, and then I was going to follow it up by including the amount of days I've had to go with absolutely no contact, but then I realized that doesn't matter. And it doesn't add or take away from my "right" to write this post. 

Granted, each type of separation and situation has it's own stresses and worries, I don't think it distracts from the fact that as military spouses, we should support each other. 

I've had friends with husbands in civilian jobs vent about the frustration and sadness they feel when their husbands go on a business trip, but then follow it up with "I'm so sorry, I shouldn't complain, your husband is gone a lot." While it can be tempting to be like "Ummmm ONE NIGHT? That's NOTHING," the reality is, because I know what it feels like to have my husband gone, I of all people should be the most understanding and supportive, not critical or belittling to her experience. 

I've also learned a few things (through observation and/or experience)

1) Sometimes, Alex will leave for 2-3 weeks and I will think NOTHING of it. Sometimes, he will leave for 2 days and I cry way more than I care to admit. Why? I don't know. Every situation is different and comes at a very different places in our lives. You never really get 100% used to it no matter the duration of time. (Although I am grateful to have friends that are awesome examples of women who have been married to service members for a while and show their willingness and ability to continuously adapt and move forward---that's pretty important). 

2) It doesn't help anyone to belittle or look down on someone for their experience. You never know what else could be going on in someone's life to cause it to be so difficult to have their husband gone, regardless of the amount of time. Everyone responds to stress and change differently. Also, honestly, the more judgy you are, the more people come to disrespect you. I resent statements like "Oh honey, he's only going to be gone for 2 days? That's nothing, just wait, I've spent a total of 1056 days alone." Seriously, as if keeping a tally of all the days wins points towards being the best military spouse ever. I'm not discounting the fact that some spouses have spent a lot more time alone than others, but I'm sure it wasn't easy at the beginning for them, either. It's  also easy to forget that there are a lot of different factors that could cause your spouse to be away more often than others. 

3) Be respectful in your venting. Maaaaaaaybe it isn't the best time to vent about a short term field training to someone whose husband is currently deployed.  Or maybe they will ask you to talk about it for the sake of being able to miss your husbands together. Also, be careful with the words "I know what you're going through." You really, really don't. Every situation is so different and every life/marriage/family is so different. (Words I learned never to use after I lost my dad). 

4) It's okay to miss your husband, it's probably a good sign if you do. ;) Also, it's okay for other women to miss their husbands, regardless of the amount of time they will be gone. 

5) If you are a more "seasoned" military spouse, we need your example. We look to you to see that life does keep moving forward, and that we are capable of doing it on our own. We also need to be given grace when we don't handle it well. 

Strength is built during our struggles and I pray for a community of spouses that encourages and lifts each other up (something I'll admit-I'm not always the greatest at), offers support and understanding during the difficult times, and brings joy to each other and our community. 

Also, by positively contributing to the community, we can focus on  supporting, loving, and praying for the service members who spend so much time away doing very difficult, and most of the time, very dangerous stuff. Let's not forget that what's hard on us is typically 2-3 times harder on them. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Whole30: A Reasoning Why and a Summary of Days 1-2

I (along with a couple of friends) started the Whole30 on June 1.


Because I wanted to, and that should be good enough reason for you. :)

No, but really, with a recent diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I've really struggled with what I can and cannot eat. I've cried once or twice because I can no longer eat donuts or normal pizza. I started obsessively eating ice cream and any other gluten free junk food I could get my hands on. I also developed a strange love for Coca-Cola-a soda I previously HATED. (I'm putting the full name because I don't want it mistaken for anything else ;)) I knew that instead of developing really bad habits in the name of "boo hoo I deserve this because I can't have ____" (Seriously, one time convinced Alex to take me to get frozen yogurt because he got to have pizza), I needed to develop a healthy relationship with food and to focus on all of the delicious and satisfying food I CAN eat. Also, sugar cravings are real and I wanted to be able to claim ownership over them.

I made an Instagram documenting random thoughts and what I'm eating during my Whole30. (You can check it out RIGHT HERE :))

So far, I'm having a lot of fun coming up with things to eat and trying to create variety in my diet. (If you follow my blog at all, you know I have numerous posts dedicated solely to meal planning)

Here's how days 1-2 went:

Day 1: The last time I attempted the Whole30, I was unhealthily OBSESSED with researching EVERYTHING. I was so scared to mess up that thinking about eating gave me anxiety. Because of this, Alex and I ultimately decided that I didn't have a very healthy mindset and that it would be better to revisit this after a little more time to CALM DOWN and come up with a healthy plan. This time around, I told myself that I would keep this Whole30 simple, especially on Day 1.

Honestly, day 1 is really easy. Anyone can change what they would normally eat for one day.

When I said I was keeping it simple on Day 1, I wasn't joking. I had scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast (which is actually pretty normal for me).

I bought the new Whole30 book and have zero buyers remorse. Seriously. My whole lunch is brought to you by the recipes in that book-the Perfect Seared Chicken and the Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. I made a bunch of the chicken and am using it for multiple meals (as you will see...).

 Dinner was a quick and easy salad with mixed greens, red onion, carrot, chicken, asparagus topped with Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil.

Probably the most depressing part of Day 1 was having a GF brownie offered to me and having to turn it down. Seriously, how often do other people bake GF Brownies? And I can't eat it? UGH.

Day 2: Frequently known as "the hangover," it went a whole lot better than expected. I did not have a headache or hangover feeling at all. Apparently, this is pretty exciting :)

I did notice one issue---every time I ate a meal, I would feel full fairly quickly only to be hungry again an hour later. Because I'm trying not to do a whole bunch of snacking, I tried to pinpoint why this may be. I get distracted fairly easily and will do random things while eating-  look at my phone, play with my dog, look up various things on my laptop. I'm going to try just focusing on eating and see if that helps me eat an adequate amount AND feel fuller longer. 

Breakfast was an "omelet" filled with mushroom, onion, and green pepper. I topped it off with salsa and salt and pepper. I say omelet in quotations because I was not born to be an omelet maker. Seriously.

Lunch was something I make a lot actually--potatoes, a sausage of some kind, green peppers, and onions cooked in olive oil on a skillet. 

For dinner, I had two different salads-the fruit salad included grapes, cantaloupe, honeydew, and strawberries. (I ended up having two bowls :)). The salad on the left was mixed greens, spinach, carrots, red onion, chicken, and salsa. I love salsa. 

I was able to go on a run that evening and feel alright during and after. That night, I also took an Epsom salt bath with baking soda and an essential oil blend added to it. I'm clearly trying to get rid of toxins any way that I can ;).  

All in all, days 1 and 2 (of 30!) went pretty well. It is so helpful to have multiple friends to talk to about our recipes, struggles, and successes. Also, Instagram provides a surprisingly supportive community of fellow Whole30ers. :)

 I'm excited (and scared!) to see what the rest of the month will bring. :)

Why I Like to Blog

I often make fun of myself for writing in a blog----because I'm one of those people who "writes in a blog." It's funny. I'm writing a blog post to share with the internet right now. I could stop myself at any moment, but I keep typing away, and I enjoy every minute of it.

So, I asked myself (and then decided to share with you), why do I blog? What motive do I have? (Certainly not monetary :)) What inspires me?

Why do I blog?

1) Writing is therapeutic for me. It always has been. I should actually be paying you for reading my blog posts because of the therapy you give me by allowing me to share my thoughts (and...feelings) with the world wide web.

2) I like to share my thoughts and experiences. Sometimes, I experience serious and life changing things. Sometimes, I find a new tv show I like. Sometimes, I feel very contemplative and insightful. Other times, I feel very sarcastic and goofy. (I hope it's obvious in my posts which one is which :-P)

3) I like to write about things I would be interested to read about in other blogs. I like reading about how others overcome trials. I like reading about the inner-struggle every person in the world deals with (and how they deal with it). I like vulnerability. I like honesty. I like sarcasm. I like it when people can poke fun at themselves. I like to be told about fun stuff to try.

4) I always have an idea developing in my mind about what I want to write about. Sometimes, it takes me 2-3 months to fully develop and write about that topic. Sometimes, conversations inspire a blog post. A lot of times, my quiet time (Bible reading/prayer) inspire a blog post. Sometimes, there are just days when I need to share something--serious or silly--- for the sake of sharing something.

5) I wish I could say I like to blog as a means to "watch and see" how I grow, but honestly, once I publish a post, more often than not, I do not read it again. Why? Some of the things that I write about are filled with so much vulnerability and honesty that it's hard for me to read (and to actually deal with what I just admitted out loud for anyone to read).

6) I hope to point others to Christ. I hope to be authentic. I hope to be vulnerable. I hope and pray for humility (in the midst of a whole lot of pride and selfishness). I hope to show, through my life and experiences, an imperfect person who has been given perfect love and grace.

7) It's FUN! Whether I have 15 or 400 views on a post, I love it.

8) Your encouragement changes my life. For real. The conversations I have with people about different things I've written about is so encouraging and awesome. It helps me to see I'm not alone. I've also been given insights and ideas I would never have thought of on my own.

So, there it is. That is why I'm one of those people who "writes in a blog."

Side note: I've never written a blog post in a coffee shop (yet).

Monday, June 1, 2015


Yesterday, I was hit with the hard reality that there are some things I have absolutely no control over. There is no "positive thought", diffused essential oil, or Bible verse that brings understanding, clarity, or even peace in the situation.

There is absolutely nothing I can say or do to change the situation. There is no amount of guilt or convincing arguments I can lay on another person to change how they feel or respond. There is no amount of prayer that stops the tears. Countless discussions don't change anything. My own power and attempts don't change anything.

I. Can't. Control. Everything. In. My. Life.

I can't fix every problem.
I can't perfectly love others in the midst of their problems.
I can't  understand why some allow certain problems to linger in their lives.
I can't understand  why I allow some problems to linger in my life.

Life is messy. Relationships are messy. Loving others is messy. Vulnerability is messy.

I am messy. (and sometimes, a complete mess)

Sometimes, my prayers look a little bit like this: "God, I don't understand. I feel angry and upset. I feel hurt and confused. I feel alone and helpless. I feel powerless and scared. I am incapable of always looking at others and saying "in the midst of this, I love you." I am incapable of perfectly forgiving and giving grace to others (and myself). More than anything, I need You right now. More than anything, I need peace and a quiet mind. More than anything, I need my heart to be transformed by You. Only in You can I truly love and forgive. Only in You can I find peace when the answers aren't present. Only in You can other hearts and minds be transformed. I need faith that You are in control. I need a mind and heart that seek You above all things."

I am thankful that God meets me exactly where I'm at. I'm thankful that He wants to walk side by side with me instead of look down on me. I'm thankful that my vulnerability is met with peace and an overwhelming sense of being loved and cherished.

I hope and pray that during your struggles and difficult times, you find that too.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Snapchat Etiquette.

I feel a calling to make the world a better place.

Because of that, I am laying out some simple "Snap Chat rules" I think would benefit all of it's users.

1) If you are adding a video with really loud, obnoxious noises (IE: a song, concert, etc), please give a picture warning beforehand. The caption could read like the following: "LOUD VIDEO IN NEXT SNAP!" or "IF YOU ARE IN CLASS/MEETING TURN VOLUME DOWN." It's just polite and helpful.

2) Does anyone else remember going to concerts during the pre-snapchat days? I remember when my friends or myself would go to a concert, and when a specific song would come on, we would call each other to let one of our other friends who couldn't make it listen to the song with us. Remember how you could never really hear or understand the words through the phone? Well, attaching video doesn't really do anything other than letting us all know where you are. We still can't understand the music. Also, you sent me in shock with the loud, obnoxious noises with no warning beforehand.

3) Just think about the story you are telling, especially if you post everyday. Is it captivating? Does it have character development? Are you stretching your creativity? Spend some time really creating a story people WANT to watch.

4) Keep your snaps somewhat mysterious. I will sometimes go DAYS without posting so that I hopefully have my audience guessing and wanting more. "Where is Kelsey? WHAT IS SHE UP TO RIGHT THIS SECOND?" "IS SHE DRIVING? WHAT SONG IS ON THE RADIO?" "IS SHE WITH HER DOG? WHAT IS HE DOING?"

5) Don't post ALL of your snaps to your story. Sometimes, it's important to make your friends and family feel like they have earned the rights to EXCLUSIVE snaps.

6) Don't ignore/not respond to someone's text/call and then immediately view a snap they send you. They will get mad at you.

7) Don't send anything you wouldn't want the recipient to screen shot. My sister and mom are notorious for sending crazy pics and then are all "Hey! Delete that!" Nope, blackmail.

I hope these tips are helpful for you. Any little bit that I can do to make a positive impact on others and the way we communicate is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

Also, please do not take me seriously.

But seriously, give me a warning before putting videos in your story.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Christianity Is Not A Debate

I think it is human nature to defend our beliefs. Sometimes, disagreements can be misinterpreted as attacks against my intelligence, my way of thinking, or my value system.

Honestly, when someone tells me that they disagree with everything I believe about God, my first instinct tells me to defend and explain why I'm right.

But, I often have to ask myself---what am I defending? Am I defending my own honor? Am I defending my own "intelligence?" Am I defending my own pride?

 Am I truly defending the gospel and what it calls me to?  Not really.

I found that I spent more time arguing and debating my beliefs with nonbelievers than I was praying for them.

I found that a lot of my "defenses" were actually not very loving or grace-filled at all.

I found that I tried to limit God and His power by coming up with the "perfect explanation" of what I believe and why I believe it. (It's impossible to put what God did in my life in a 2-3 sentence rebuttal, by the way).

I found that taking the defensive role took away my ability to have a real conversation and my ability to say, "Yeah, there really are some things I struggle with, too."

So, I'm praying for an ability to lovingly and gracefully handle situations when people may or may not be looking for an argument/debate about my beliefs. (I know there are people who like to get a rise out of others, and people who ask questions out of general curiosity. :))

I'm praying for a heart that longs to see people find and experience Christ's love and grace instead of a mouth that tries to (unsuccessfully) change how people think by talking too much.

I'm praying for opportunities to have those difficult conversations, but to allow the Holy Spirit to work instead of relying on my own "power."

I'm also praying for those who have told me they have doubt and disbelief. I think working through that and figuring out why it's there is crucial and I pray that you find God's tremendous love and peace in the midst of it. To pretend that I never experience doubt and disbelief would be a huge lie, but I promise, He has never failed to pull me from it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Your Character In My Story

“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.”  - C.S. Lewis

I am often reminded of the limitations in my own mind and heart. I think a lot about "how far I've come" until I fall right back into what's comfortable, which is often behaviors that are destructive and hurtful to others.

I've failed as a friend, sister, daughter, and wife.
I've hurt others intentionally and unintentionally. 
I've been hurt by my friends, siblings, parents, and husband. 
I've played games to let them "earn" my forgiveness.
I've pushed people away and refused to forgive them.

I describe others and my experiences with them based on just that--my own experiences (paired with my own opinions and assumptions).

I will admit that when I have a falling out with someone, I want affirmation that I was right and they were wrong. 

I will offer forgiveness (internally or externally), but will find myself experiencing days filled with resentment towards that person. 

I will exhaust your capacity to listen to someone vent. 

I will innocently share my testimony while still missing the point---I will spend more time comparing who I WAS with THEM--whoever the characters in my story may be, instead of focusing on Christ and the great love and grace he has to offer. Also, forgetting that God's grace and love is intended for THEM as well, not just for me and who I may be talking to---so if my testimony spends more time explaining the "crowd I used to run with" instead of my own heart and the change that took place, there's a problem. 

So, what is the point of this post?

I guess it's to say that relationships are messy. I haven't figured out how to be the perfect friend, sister, daughter, and wife. I will fail you. I also haven't figured out how to perfectly give you grace and forgiveness when you fail me. But that's the beauty in it, right? We aren't perfect, but we serve a Perfect God that shows us mercy and forgiveness perfectly.  I'm so thankful to follow and seek One who doesn't have limitations and is able to open my mind to my own little by little each day. I am thankful for His Spirit that takes my selfish, insecure, and jealous heart, and fills it with love, grace, and mercy---no matter how many times I stray. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

How To Prepare For Wedding Season

Here we are! We're back to that time of year again- the save the dates and invites should have been rolling in for a while now, but the actual weddings are soon approaching.

I thought I'd write a quick post on how I prepare for this season full of showers, ceremonies, and receptions. I will also share some quick tips I've learned.

I personally have never planned a wedding- we did a quick and easy ceremony with immediate family only, but do not dismiss my advice---after being both a bridesmaid and guest at countless weddings, I assure you, I am a professional wedding guest. it goes:

1) Having a separate budget  for weddings is probably a good idea, but sometimes it is so much more fun to be like "Oh my gosh, I am sooo broke from allll of these weddings and events I am invited to." It makes you sound important. So the separate budget is optional.

2) RSVP in a timely manner. I have been both a good and bad RSVPer and have received both the appreciation and wrath from being both types. I'd rather receive the "thanks so much for RSVPing BEFORE the "RSVP BY" date!" than the opposite. :)

3) Think BEFOREHAND about songs you would like to request to the DJ. The pressure is intense at the reception to think of something. You should have a variety of mindless/fun music to sweet/romantic songs. Also think to yourself--- "could people dance/sing along to this?" Also, I suggest songs keeping the bride/groom/audience and their preferences in mind.

On my personal list: Uptown Funk -Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars (because : TOO HOT!)
                                  This Is How We Do - Katy Perry (because: bridesmaids always like their one anthem-- I'm serious ...there is always at least one point in the night when they are the only ones on the dance floor dancing together)
                                  Lose Control- Missy Elliot (because: there's always that one guy/girl that cranks out the crazy awesome dances moves that puts everyone else to shame)
                                  American Kids- Kenny Chesney (because: this will get the people who do not like to dance at least singing along)
                                  Drunk On A Plane - Dierks Bentley (because: irony)
                                  Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (because: even though it's overplayed, it's easy to dance to)
                                 The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra (because; You're never too old to boogie, and this song is awesome)

Look at all the strategy I put into the songs I pick! Any good DJ will likely have these jams and will play at lease one or two of them, but, if not, you can always suggest them and be the cool one who knows how to keep the party flowing. (If you do not get these results, it's not my fault, blame the musician).

4) PRACTICE those dance moves. For Real.

I've made the TRAGIC mistake of doing the Bernie during the Wobble. THEY ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT DANCES- and there are tutorials on Youtube for both. I'm serious--I've already been watching and practicing.  (Two additional songs to suggest if they are not played---then you can be the one everyone tries to learn the moves from.)

5) Don't be that person sitting at the table judging the people that are out there dancing. Just remember---dancing is an ART, not matter how crazy it may look. 

Well, that concludes my list of how to prepare for wedding season. How do you prepare? Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

That Time I Ran A Mile In 9:11

Today, I ran a mile in 9 min and 11 seconds.

Maybe it was my body wanting to burn off the ice cream I ate for lunch.

Maybe I was rushing to get out of the heat.

Maybe my dog pulled harder than usual.

Maybe it was built up stress and anxiety longing to be released.

Maybe my gps/running app is broken.

I know a lot of you don't think that's very fast, but when my previous PR was 10:30, that's BOOKING it for me.

All I know is---it's probably not going to happen again anytime soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Celiac Friendly Yummies

Finding gluten free options at restaurants can be very difficult. It's not as easy as "just don't get a bun or eat the bread." Gluten hides in seasonings, glazes, and cross contamination from prep/pots/pans/fryers is real. Because of this, we have been eating at home a whole lot more. (I'm working on a list of dishes to eat at restaurants/fast food restaurants. I still get sick from some "gluten free" items at restaurants.)

I've tried various gluten free pizzas and pastas, and even though I don't get sick afterwards, I've noticed I still don't feel nourished and satisfied after eating them. Another reminder that just because something is labeled as "gluten free." that is should not be classified as a "health food." (Sorry "organic" pepperoni!) It is still super tempting to rely on frozen pizza and burritos instead of whole foods that are more beneficial to my health and wellness.

That being said, I recently ordered the new Whole30 book. I basically want to try ALL of the recipes. I'm sad to admit that I've only lasted 15 days on a Whole30, but even in that short time, I was able to realize the impact food has on me and it helped me discover how foods with gluten made me feel. I am planning on doing another one soon----this time I will get through the full 30 days.

I am obsessed with skillet meals right now. I love the combo of meat, veggies, and seasonings. I love how all of the flavors blend and I love how easily the reciple can be adjusted to whatever meat/veggies./seasonings I have in my kitchen. Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion, and Potato Hash is one of our favorites.

I currently have a love obsession with Butter Chicken . It was my first gluten free meal that I ate in a restaurant, and I want it all of the time. I will probably make this Dairy-Free Butter Chicken recipe when I do my next Whole30. I've learned that I can be a tad more generous with the spices (especially the Cayenne Pepper) and it is completely up to me how spicy or cinnamon-y I would like it to taste.

 Since it is so nice out, we are all about using our grill. We sometimes will have a "chicken seasoning" party in our kitchen and each choose different spices and seasonings we want to use to make our own chicken. We have some really awesome spices from TongueSpank (thanks Maria!) that we frequently use, but sometimes I will just use lemon pepper seasoning and put my chicken over some spinach.

Alex and I are also on a hardcore brat/sausage phase. I've noticed that because I can no longer eat buns, I have to eat a lot more food to feel full. These Oven Baked Potato Wedges are the perfect side dish to help fill me up. They are so good and heat up really well the next day.

There are plenty of gluten free brats/sausages, but I was super excited to find the Aidells brand. Pineapple juice is listed as one of the ingredients in a few of their meats, and because pineapple and I don't get along, I kept looking until I landed on these two flavors: Cajun style and Italian style. So.Freaking.Good.I.Want.One.Right.Now.

I'd like to conclude with one last message. I would not be writing this post if it weren't true:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Use Your Mind

Here's the deal, I did not read a Christian book or inspirational quote that led to the awesome grace and hope found in Christ. Sure, they were supplements that may or may not have pointed me to him, but they did not hold the convincing point that drove it home in my mind.
In fact, I am actually skeptical of most Christian books (and movies). I believe God uses authors in an incredible way, but I also am not a fan of books that try to spark some emotional response in me, and I also don't really enjoy those "feel good, make me feel great" books. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, just look on the "Women's Issues" shelf in the Christianity section of any book store).

I like to read books that bring understanding and insight to different topics, but I also like to read and research things that challenge what and how I think. I should note, I do read Christian books, I just like to line up what they say with what the Bible says. (I've also struggled with letting Christian book reading overshadow Bible reading, and that's no bueno)

For a really long time, I was under the impression that Christianity (or the Church) were just another group of people who found their identity and "rules to life" from whatever popular preacher or best selling author loosely used the Bible to create the perfect "how to" guide to live by. My perception was right AND wrong. (There are people in the church who do that, but that's not how it was meant to be)

Let me mention again, I do not like feeling manipulated to give an emotional response or to reading a book to hopefully all agree (submit) to one person's views of Christianity and how Christians should behave. I am also a self admitted "difficult person" to have in a small group setting at Church. I question a lot and I sometimes need further explanation as to where someone may be coming from. I don't like textbook answers. 

I thought that choosing Christianity was an easy way to get out of independent thinking. It seemed to easy to swallow what a preacher said on Sunday morning and to spew that stuff out whenever God "needed defending." 

Here's what I've come to know:

1) Jesus was a "free thinker" For real. Every religious leader that he encountered was furious with Him for not "following the rules." I'm not saying Jesus was a rebel, so let's all be rebels, but rather, Jesus came to this world and questioned the teachings and rules the religious leaders were giving to the people. The Church NEEDS those people as well. We need people in the Word and making sure we have preachers and leaders who are speaking truth. He also came to this world to bring restoration and healing, so I want to follow His example and His truth in how I encourage leaders and other believers. 

2) We don't have to argue. We all have these beautiful minds that come to conclusions and perceptions based on a wide variety of experiences. It's amazing how two people can go through the exact same situation and have two completely different reactions. The Church needs these perceptions and experiences, but not in a hateful, argumentative way. Recently, in one of our small groups, a controversial issue came up, and our group leader, Jacob, said something that completely put my heart in check (and I think about it every single time a "hot button" issue comes up). He said, "if we allow _____ issue to distract from the message of the redeeming love of Christ, we let the issue of _____ become our idol above Him." There is no political or religious issue that rises above the message of Christ and His love for Us. It's okay to disagree. (It's also great that we are all thinking about these things)

3) Following Christ has challenged the way I think more than I ever thought possible. Even this morning, I was reading something in the Bible and just started laughing and said out loud, "I really don't get this." Christianity isn't meant to dumb down your mind and ability to think for yourself, but following Christ has definitely put into perspective how limited my capacities truly are. 

I wrote this post for two reasons.

1) I hope it will encourage other Christians to seek out and know God more. God created your mind in a unique, beautiful way, but we aren't capable of understanding it all on our own. Doubts exist (we need to stop pretending they don't) Surround yourself to others that allow you to share your thoughts, but will also point You to Christ regardless of if they agree or disagree. 

2) If you are not following Christ, I wanted to show that we aren't perfect. We have minds that come to conclusions that are sometimes hurtful and not what Christ calls us to. We have unlimited doubts and questions, too. Also, I want to make a case for Christians. It's not quite fair to call Christians dumb, mindless zombies either. For me, it took A LOT of thought and faith to make this decision. It was not one I was forced into and it was not one I entered into lightly. I would encourage you to continue to consider your doubts and questions and to also ask yourself where they stem from/why they exist.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Eating Gluten Free Is Easy

Honestly, when I got the call last Friday that I tested positive for celiac disease, I wasn't surprised.


Because I have experience with elimination diets and recognize how food with gluten makes me feel after I eat it. In fact, when I went to the doctors office, I specifically told her I thought that may be the problem.

I also was not scared about having to eat gluten free. Why? Eating gluten free is easy. Eating healthy is hard. In fact, we have been eating pretty much GF for a few months (throw in a couple of nights of gluten filled junk food, what can I say? Pizza is good). Although, I was very, very sad to hear the news and have confirmation of what I thought. I'm in the middle of penning a break up letter to cookies as we speak..."It's not you, it's me. I just love my small intestines more, I'm sorry."

Because of the popularity of the gluten free "diet" (I say that because for most, it is assumed that simply eliminating gluten will help them drop the pounds), Pinterest, and even the aisles of the grocery store, host A LOT of junk food marked with the "gluten free" label. (I may or may not have eaten a Reese's earlier today--of course, labeled GF). Logic, but not always experience, tells me that if my body is responding so strongly to something like gluten, why would it not respond negatively to junk food in general? It's not always just the gluten that makes me sick, but the other nasty stuff I'm putting into my body along with it contributes as well. GF/SF/Paleo or not.

The point of this post is to say that whether you have an autoimmune disorder or not, I think our bodies all want the same thing: a diet consisting of a lot of "good for you" foods balanced with protein, vitamins, and fat. Mine just lets me know that in a very dramatic way.

Also, I still love Reese's. And I still search for GF desserts on the regular. I just am learning to have a better balance :).

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Picture I Paint

I never want the picture that I paint of myself to look perfect.

Most of the questions I am asked regarding the Bible, life, or anything else regarding more "serious" topics are typically answered with the response of "I don't know."

Most of my blog posts (minus meal planning and silly posts) are about things I am nowhere near mastering or perfecting.

Most of my days are spent messing up- I say things I shouldn't, I act selfishly, and I spend a lot of time focusing on things that don't matter.

Most of my quiet times are spent in awe of all that I have been (and continue to be) forgiven from. Life is messy, and I often add to the chaos.

I want my painting to look like that. I want my life to be a reflection of Christ and His perfection-not mine, I am far from it. If I could paint a picture of my life, it would have some really dark colors. It wouldn't make sense and it wouldn't be easily interpreted. In the midst of it, though, there would be a light that would make it all come together and look beautiful.

That's what Christ can do.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Accountability In Marriage.

Let me paint a picture of a Christian woman trying to keep her husband "accountable" and "point him to Christ."

She spends a lot of time thinking about what Christian leadership should look like in the home. She then gets annoyed when her husband doesn't live up to those expectations. She then gets even more annoyed when he messes up or does something not honoring to God. (Never mind her mistakes, because, grace). She makes suggestions in a nagging tone. When her husband does decide to open up about a current struggle or something weighing on his heart, she asks in an annoying tone, "Have you prayed about it?" (Never mind all the venting she does before even thinking about praying about situations that come up in her life). She constantly questions her motives and feels guilty for how she often responds to her husband.

Not ideal, right? Unfortunately, all of these things listed are what I have struggled with, or am currently struggling with. I think accountability in marriage is essential, but I'm learning what it looks like for Alex and I.

I'm praying to be a wife that can love and serve Alex well. I'm praying to be a wife that PRAYS for Alex regularly. I'm praying to be a wife that will listen to him when he is going through a hard time or needs to vent about something. I'm also praying for a loving way to point him to Christ in these times. I'm praying to be a wife that can encourage and lift him up, but can also gently call out sin in his life in a grace filled way. I'm praying for other men to come in his life that will encourage and lift him up as well. I'm praying that regardless of how broken and messy we can be individually, that we would have a marriage that honors Christ. I also pray that individually we can have lives that honor Him as well.

I began this post talking about a "Christian wife" because I wanted to show that even while following Christ, I let myself get in the way. I have to pray for conviction and a broken heart towards all of my sin daily so that the One who loves, forgives, and restores can replace more and more of that ugly stuff with His beauty.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

At Least I Can Admit It

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen doing dishes and Alex was in the living room messing around on his computer.

After a few minutes of contemplating, I said "Hey Alex" and he was like "Yeah?" and I responded "I'm feeling a little unreasonable right now." Like the smart man that he is, he did not respond, he just let me be unreasonable for a little while.

I am convinced that there are certain days of the year that are designated as "National Ignore Kelsey Day" because literally any and everyone I try to contact doesn't answer their phone or respond to a message I send. Sometimes, I contemplate every conversation I have and wonder if I have offended anyone to cause them to ignore me. And then sometimes I let Alex know I'm feeling unreasonable and may or may not cry about some over-exaggerated or over-analyzed situation that really does not exist.

But, like I said, at least I can admit it.

Stupid PMS.

P.S. Don't ignore me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Some Words About Words.

This morning, I read James 1-3 during my quiet time. I always ask for the Lord to reveal more of himself to me and to convict me when there is a part of my life I hold onto. 

This morning, I was reminded of how I hold onto my words and how I choose to use them. 

On one hand, I will openly talk about God's grace, His love and redemption sent through Jesus, and the joy and peace I have been given through Him. On the other hand, I will openly complain, criticize, and can sometimes be just plain mean with how I choose to use my words. 

I often allow frustration to consume me and let it control how I speak.

I often allow the temptation to compare myself to others and then criticize them to make myself feel better (it doesn't).

I often let circumstances control my outlook and speak accordingly. I allow anxiety and assumptions to dictate my outlook and opinions about different situations or people. 

James 3 then goes into a few verses about wisdom from above. James 3:17 "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." 

This morning, my prayer was that Christ could use my words to encourage others and bring them to Him (in spite of myself). I asked that the same mouth that can cause so much destruction and negativity would seek restoration and to show grace to others. I asked for forgiveness for how I often choose to speak. I asked that my words would be filled with thankfulness and joy. I asked for a mind set on Him and to be convicted when I start to speak and act selfishly. 

Lastly, (and this is one of the hardest parts) I asked for women who would encourage and point me to Christ when my words don't reflect Him. I choose myself instead of Christ more often than I'd like to admit. The church needs women (and men) who will encourage each other and lovingly point them to Christ during times of frustration, struggles, and/or disagreements. (I've noticed that my words often are associated with what I am currently dealing with in life.) 

I would love and appreciate it if you could pray for me today as each day is a new day to use my words to bring Truth, or to bring destruction and hurt. Please let me know if there is anything you need prayer for. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Love You, Honey

I don't know how this happened, but every meal I planned for this week has honey as one of the ingredients. These are all new recipes that we are going to try, so I hope they are good. (But if honey is involved, I'm sure they will be ;))

I would like to point out that while these recipes look and sound delicious, I have a feeling this may be tempting on one of those nights I don't feel like cooking. Winnie the Pooh knows the right way to eat honey.

So, here's our honey-filled menu:

1) Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders by Budget Bytes. This recipes looks super simple and I like how they have all the ingredients labeled by cost so I can see just how much the meal costs per serving. I think it's a good reminder that I can't always justify Chik-fil-a or going out to eat. ;) We have a whole bunch of frozen veggies in our freezer that I may serve with it. That or salad.

2) Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls by Zoe Dawn. I'm not sure how this one is going to turn out. It looks simple enough, but I'm really bad at rolling things and trying to make a "stuffing" fit inside of a vegetable, especially something like cabbage. Wish me luck.

3) Sweet Potato Sloppy Joes by Paleo Newbie. I have a couple of sweet potatoes and a couple white potatoes, so I will probably make both and see which one I like more.

4) Garlic Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" by Nom Nom Paleo. This is more of a side dish, but I reallllly want to try it. (Alex, not so much) I don't really know what we will eat them with....maybe the cabbage rolls? I don't know. Please let me know if you've tried them and if they are worth making!

This is how I decide what to make for the week:
1) What meat/ingredients do I already have? (We have 2 lbs of ground beef in our freezer right now so that's why this week is ground beef heavy)
2) What sounds good? (Usually the answer is pizza, but I have to fight through it and really think)
3) Does this recipe use mostly whole/natural ingredients?
4) What are the current food trends? (I am super impressionable and always want to be eating what the "cool kids" are eating.) Just kidding, this isn't real. Maybe more like "what is currently in season?"
5) Can I justify eating a whole pint of ice cream after this meal? (If the answer is yes, it's on the list)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-A TV Show We Can Both Agree On

Okay, before I start, take a listen to the intro of this show. It is CATCHY and I love it.

Shows that Alex and I both like (and watch together) are few and far between. We typically watch crime shows that are pretty serious and involved. This show is hilarious, light, and ummm hilarious.
Here are some reasons we enjoy this show:

1) It is a Netflix original. I am convinced Netflix does not allow anything sub-par to carry the "Netflix Original" stamp in it's title.

2) Ellie Kemper is amazing. The awkward and goofy girl we remember from The Office and Bridesmaids is back, but this time, she is also amazingly strong and independent. It's a refreshing mix and she is hilarious along the way. (I really like the word hilarious)

3) The plot line is unique (yet all too familiar). It centers around Ellie Kemper's character, Kimmy Schmidt, and her adventures after being released from a bunker after years of being told by an opportunistic pastor that the apocalypse occurred and she (and 3 other girls) were the only survivors. The other girls are pretty funny as well.

4) Tina Fey is a producer and has a small part in the show.

5) Jon Hamm is involved.

6) They are shorter episodes so it's impossible to feel guilty after watching 5 or more episodes in a row. ;)

Check it out! I really doubt you will regret it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Healthy Recipes We Love

(BEFORE I BEGIN--I say they are new healthy recipes we love, but I am basing that on different factors than most would use to consider a recipe as "healthy." The listed meals all fall under Paleo guidelines, but what we like the most about them is that we know every ingredient in our meals)

We are in no way perfect "clean" eaters, but we are trying.

We recently started going to a local store to find grass fed/organic meats. We haven't banned grocery store meats, but when (and while) we can, we want to eat the higher quality stuff. (I say while we can because who knows what will happen to our food budget once we have kids---NO I'M NOT PREGNANT).

So, if you're looking to eat healthier, or even if you want to try new recipes, I hope that if you decide to try these recipes, you like them as much as we do. Also, if you've already mastered some of these cooking techniques/methods, I ALWAYS love advice to make things easier/tastier/etc.

1) Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Nom Nom Paleo I still have dreams about these things. I'm not kidding. Thinking about them right now makes me want some. (We are making them again this weekend :)) The only ingredient I did not add was the fish sauce. I also used organic butter instead of ghee. Seriously, these are delicious. I know bacon is controversial in including this as a "healthy" recipe, but we were able to find grass fed/no sugar/no curing bacon, so for us, it's not so bad. Also, the apple balances out the bacon. ;). Alex even said the apples on the pork chops are better than serving the pork chops with applesauce. (Is that a mid-western thing?) I served them with baked potatoes.

2) Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie by Cook Like A Cavewoman Seriously.....this was so hearty and delicious with ZERO regret afterwards. It's filling, healthy, and yummy. Can you really beat a recipe with those three adjectives? I accidentally shook a whole lot of cinnamon in there, so it did have a pretty strong cinnamon taste, but I think next time I will add different spices as well as the CORRECT amount of cinnamon. :)

3) Zucchini Noodles with Seasoned Chicken/Marinara Sauce. I used Nom Nom Paleo's method to prep the zucchini/cut the noodles and this recipe to actually stir fry them (I doubled the water because I used 4 zucchini instead of 2). I did end up draining the noodles before serving them. They only take about 5-6 minutes to make, so that was my last step. Beforehand, I baked chicken with Italian seasoning in the oven and then cut it up and mixed it with some marinara sauce on the stove. I usually just buy a jar and look at the labels to avoid sauces with sugar added and any other ingredient I can't pronounce. ;)

4) Bacon-Jalapeo Burger Balls by The Clothes Make the Girl I know I talked about making these in this meal plan and I was nervous to try them. They.Were.So.Good. Alex made them and the Awesome Sauce (no relish this time :)). He used regular mayo/ketchup for the Awesome Sauce. That Awesome Sauce really is awesome. And it was amazing on the burger balls. I know this recipe doesn't sound "healthy" either, but in it's truest form (her recipe), it is a meal that allows us to have control over 100% of the ingredients and know what is in our food.

We were going to do the Whole 30 for all of March, but then I started obsessing over ingredients/food quality, researching non-stop, and having nightmares about food. I realized very quickly that this was COMPLETELY missing the point of the Whole 30. It's supposed to help me create a healthy outlook towards food and my diet instead of what I was doing. I'm going to keep experimenting with different meals that can be eaten on the Whole 30 and hopefully actually do one sometime this year. Also, we need to figure out how to meal plan/prep in a way that fits our budget and also doesn't leave us hungry all of the time.

Let me know if you decide to try any/all of these recipes! I know they are all pretty meat heavy, but I am looking for good vegetarian recipes to add to the mix as well.

(Here is the hidden section of the blog that reveals what else I eat-including the massive amount of the desserts I ate last weekend and for the first few days of this week. Also, it fails to mention my love for pizza and that I ate 3 pieces of it today for lunch and didn't even feel bad about it.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

To My Younger Self

I've seen a "to my yourself" tag going around on YouTube. I've quickly figured out that I'm much better at rambling in a blog format than a video format. (At least when I ramble in my blog, I can put my ramblings in coherent and linear sentences).

So, I am going to write a letter to my younger self and post it on the internet for anyone to read. Since, you know, my younger self can't read it nor would she fully grasp what I am trying to say. My younger self is much like my current self in a lot of ways, but MUCH more stubborn, head strong, and i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t. So here goes nothing.

Dear Younger Kelsey,

I remember a time when the future looked so fun. Pretending to be whatever type of career woman I felt like that week--veterinarian, teacher, or scientist. Knowing that "someday...when I'm bigger...." the possibilities were endless. Thinking that I was really going to marry one of the Backstreet Boys and that the Disney Channel was forever going to host my favorite shows. Hold on to that. While there is so much "unknown" regarding the future, that unknown is filled with hope and excitement. 

As you grow older, though, the unknown still holds a little bit of excitement (I know your love for adventure and "planned spontaneity" (you probably don't know what that word means, but you'll act like you do), but it can also be very scary. Things will (and do) happen that will make you have to shift, redirect, and significantly alter your own life plans. Please know that it is okay to feel scared. It's okay to let down your guard and let others in during these times. It's okay to trust that those in your life are looking out for the best for you (more on that later...). But above all, lean on the God who loves you when all of that feels like it has been taken away.

Allow others into your life. Pray for friends and family that will support and encourage you, but always be looking for opportunities to support and encourage them as well. Don't let yourself get too caught up in being busy and "important," but make loving and serving others some of the most important "jobs" in your life. At the same time, it is okay for others not to like you. Not everyone will. It. Is. Okay. If others don't like you, though, make sure your conscience is clear. Remember when dad told you "it's okay if people don't like you, as long as you didn't say or do something to give them reason not to." You're not always going to get it right. You will hurt others. But learn how to apologize. Don't apologize for other people's "perceptions" or "misunderstanding of your intentions." Own up to the fact that you can and will say and do hurtful things to others. Regardless of intention. 

It will be a forever struggle to not find your identity in a guy. From the first time a boy shows interest in you, to the day you say "I do," it is hard to not look to a guy to find affirmation and purpose. No one on this earth is capable of being 100% what you need 100% of the time. At the same time, it is much more fulfilling to pray for opportunities and the capacity to love and serve your husband instead of complaining about what he may or may not do that doesn't love and serve you. (I don't think you will ever 100% perfect this, but thank goodness for forgiveness from God and from my spouse). 

Lastly, people will say and do things that will hurt you. I know you, your first response is typically to find the sharpest dagger and hit them with it. (Not literally....but, you know, find the thing that you know would hurt them the most and say it.) DON'T DO IT. Also, while cutting people out of your life may seem like the most "logical" situation in the midst of your hurt and frustration, it is typically the most damaging. It damages how you view friendships. It reduces your ability to love and forgive. It makes it harder to reach out and say "I'm sorry." It's okay to communicate, even if it is minimally. I know you like to think through things and come up with a conclusion, but let people know that is what you are doing. Don't assume people just know what is going on. 

Please also know that in a life full of unknown and struggles, there is also so much joy and peace to be found. There are times of non-stop laughter and goofiness. There are days when all you will want to watch is a Disney movie. You will still love fruit snacks and Skittles. Snow days are still the best kind of day off. And you will never stop learning and growing. I may have more of myself figured out now, but I can assure you as time passes, the idea of "younger" becomes a little bit older, and I will always have new things to learn. Throughout it all, be exactly who you are because regardless of what you think the mirror says, you are beautiful.

Older (but not necessarily wiser) Self.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Jesus?

In my community group last week, we were talking about how we should respond when people who do or do not follow Jesus say or do something that goes against the Bible's teachings. One thing I mentioned was that I have always had a huge awareness of what I am doing that is 1) not beneficial to myself or others and 2) is not what Christ calls me to. Before I even starting following Jesus, I knew. That being said, when others pointed out to me the sins or mistakes I was making,(well-intentioned I'm sure) I did not EVER have a response of "you're right, let me repent and start following Jesus now." Please note that I am very stubborn and now believe that because I would call myself a follower of Christ, there is a loving way to point me back to Christ and I respect those ladies in my life that take on the difficult task of holding me accountable. Before making that decision to follow Christ though, having others point out my sins (and I often did it to others, too....) was not an effective "tool" in giving me a repentant heart. At most, it made me feel guilty, but honestly I felt more ashamed that the other person saw the ugly in my life and I started to resent them for it. (I also have very strong people-pleasing tendencies).

So I began to think...what did bring me to Christ? What happened to make me change my mind about all of this?

I feel like I should also mention that I was raised in the church. I think it is surprising to some that from the time I was 17 until the age of 22, I struggled with Christianity. (If I'm honest, I still have struggles). I didn't struggle with the idea of God existing. I struggled with the church. I struggled with hearing people (including myself) talk about God's grace in the midst of judging other people. I struggled with the idea of a God who just wanted to make me feel guilty. Why would I want to follow a God who wants to point out my sin all of the time?

Until I realized I was wrong. I can't tell you what it was, I honestly don't know. I didn't read a magical Bible verse that changed my mind about anything. (Up to that point, I only read the Bible verses that promised me a great future, encouragement, and a whole lot of blessings).

I know I wrote about my first car ride from St. Louis to North Carolina before, but I want to elaborate on what was going on in my mind during that time.

In that moment, all of my past mistakes and sins were not thrown in my face. I was not reminded of what a "bad" person I am. I felt Him saying "let me help you." I felt Him saying "I love you." It was the first time in my life I had felt truly loved in spite of myself. (Marriage has taught Alex and I a lot about that ;)) I know that there are people in my life who would love me no matter what, but I could still hide things from them. They never knew the FULL story. I couldn't hide anything from God and He LOVED me.

Since that time, I've come to realize a few things.

1) Following Jesus brings restoration and healing. Losing my dad was (and still is) one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. I still have days that I cry because he is the only person I want to talk to. I want to hear his voice. I want to hear his laugh. I want to give him a hug. God has helped me through some of the deepest sadness I've experienced, but it's not been through taking it away, but through loving me and allowing me to rely on Him through it. I now believe that the ONLY thing that could be taken away from me that would make me unable to survive is if God Himself left me. I always thought restoration looked like perfection in this life. Instead, restoration means relying on the perfect one to bring healing and to be reminded of the hope we have in Him.

2) I'm still the same person. I know through every stage of life, I am growing and God is revealing more and more of Himself to me, but one of the most humbling things is realizing I have some struggles that will never go away. I can have months where I am on my "best behavior" and then one day regress to a place I never thought I could go back to. Again, I am not perfect, but rely on the perfect One. I have to repent of my selfishness and my desire to do things my way all of the time.

3) I want this for all of my family and friends. I am fully aware that to some of you, this sounds ABSOLUTELY crazy. I AGREE. This IS absolutely crazy! I question what I believe all of the time. I read parts of the Bible and ask myself questions like "WHY is this in here?" and "what does this even  mean?" My belief in Christ was not founded on scientific evidence. It was founded in a desire to be loved and forgiven. It was found in a place where I felt the most empty and alone. It was found at a time when all I wanted to do was give up and lose myself in a pit of depression.

You aren't meant to do any of this alone. When I came to Christ, I brought a lot of anger, hurt, sadness, insecurity, and doubt with me. Day by day, He is showing me joy, forgiveness (of myself and others), restoration, and a capacity to love more than I ever thought possible.

As always, if you want to talk, I'm here.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

When My Husband Gets the Flu

Late Tuesday night, Alex came home with an upset stomach. Around 9:30 pm, he said "my stomach feels weird." by 11:30, he was hugging the toilet.

Here's the deal. I know what it's like to feel miserable and sick, so I take care of Alex to the best of my ability. At the same time, I absolutely hate everything about throwing up. I hate the sound, I hate the feeling, I hate the smell. Everything. Thinking about it makes me want to throw up. (A couple of winters ago, I had three strains of the flu. Three. Including that really bad norovirus that went around.
Doesn't that mean I paid in advance for at least two winters?? COME ON!) So naturally, I'm trying to do whatever I can to prevent it as well.

Here's what I did to try to get Alex feeling better quicker, and to prevent me from catching whatever he had (the verdict is still out if it worked........).

For Alex:

1) Stock up on the essentials: saltine crackers, ginger ale, lemons, chicken soup ingredients.

When I made this chicken soup, I really didn't care about taste. I put WHATEVER "super foods" I could think of in it. Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale. onion, garlic, and chicken. He could only sip on the broth yesterday, but today I hope it will help replenish some nutrients he's been missing out on.

2) Let him get a lot of sleep. I gave him control of Netflix and let him lounge on the couch. He passed out after 5 minutes and slept for a few hours.

3) Epsom salt bath. Hot water, Epsom salt, baking soda, and ginger. He stayed in there for about 40 min (apparently the first 20 min is a detox, the last 20 minutes is when you absorb the nutrients). He was hesitant to do this one, but he eventually got desperate enough to do anything and everything to try to feel better. This bath really helped him start sweating out the fever. I had layers of clothing ready (plus WATER and tea...this bath requires hydration! Plus, he was done throwing up by this point) for him when he got out. He sweat all night and woke up feeling like a new person.

4) Healthy food for the day after. No junk food for him today.

For myself:

1) I washed and sanitized EVERYTHING he touched. I washed our bedspread, too, but I wasn't taking anymore chances, so last night, we slept with different blankets.

He laughed at me for doing this, but seriously, I am not playing with the flu!

2) Avoid the things that weaken my immune system. This whole winter, I have done my best to avoid the things that I know make me more likely to get sick. This list includes: greasy fast food (and I try to avoid most junk food in general...I'm NOT perfect though), consuming alcohol (I typically let myself have 1-2 drinks two to three times a month, if that), and low amounts of sleep (I need adequate amounts of sleep for so many reasons! Crabby Kelsey is not fun Kelsey).

3) Build up my immune system. Exercising consistently has helped me fight off or have less severe sickness. I diffuse essential oils in my house constantly-the oils help kill off nasty stuff in the air, and I've experienced a lot of benefits personally from the use of them. (I stopped applying them topically because I have gotten rashes from them. I used to use coconut oil as a carrier, but now I'm researching other options). I have been eating more protein, (good) fat, and veggies. I also drink large amounts of water. Recently, I have been putting lemon in my water (thanks Michelle :)). 

I know that doing all of these things may very well result in me still getting the flu. I've accepted that (not really...). Even if I do get it, at least I'm not going into it with a deficit of nutrients to begin with. (Can you tell I'm trying to validate myself????).

I probably should just invest in a bubble to live in.

Mama’s Losin’ It