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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chef- A Movie We Can Both Agree On

One movie Alex and I will always agree on watching (and have watched together multiple times in the last year) is Chef. It has a phenomenal cast-Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, and Robert Downey Jr. 

Chef is one of those movies we watch and feel like it's a realistic story not glamorized by Hollywood. It has a simple plot that is still engaging and interesting. Nothing just "magically" happens and fixes everything that goes wrong.He deals with real life and has to make tough decisions. The only thing I will say is if you are hungry, don't watch it until you have eaten. The main character, Carl (Jon Faureau), is a chef who loses his job at the restaurant that made him "Twitter famous" due to a food critic who wasn't too impressed (his understanding of Twitter is hilarious and with resonate with most people). He starts up a Food Truck and that leads to a whole new adventure he must navigate through with his family. It's not always easy, but it's real life. (I'm not kidding though--DON'T WATCH THIS IF YOU ARE HUNGRY-even if you're not hungry, you will be by the end of this). 

If you have Netflix, this movie is currently on there. 

"I get to touch people's lives with what I do and I love it and I want to share this with you." -Carl

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Our Mardi Gras

While we didn't do anything to celebrate Mardi Gras this year, our dog sure went a little crazy. The Barkbox this month came with everything essential to celebrate (except for the beads, thank goodness). We have been getting the Barkbox for about 8 months now and it's always exciting to see what he is going to get.
The box typically comes with 2 toys and 2-3 treats (usually 2 bags and 1 chew toy). While the toys are typically destroyed after 30 minutes, the treats truly make it worth it to me. They only send treats with high quality ingredients and Yadi has never refused a treat sent. ;)
Here is the loot he got this month :)
(He doesn't understand what a mask is ;))

Mardi Gras wouldn't be complete without some Jambalaya :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Five Lessons Learned Through Budgeting

For the last two weeks, Alex has lived and breathed our budget---and it shows. We have BEAUTIFUL spreadsheets outlining each and every expense, how much we have coming in, how much we have going out, and how long it will take for us to have each debt paid off. I am amazed by the amount of detail and organization he has put into our budget.

I normally let him do his thing and then I ask questions afterwards. Since I am (USUALLY) pretty agreeable, I look at the pretty spreadsheet and say something like "looks great, I agree" and then don't follow it two weeks later when I buy something not on the budget that I THINK would be an easy adjustment on the spreadsheet. He gets frustrated by my lack of concern with our plan and I get frustrated with his lack of concern of what I consider to be important purchases.This time, we both knew things had to be different. (And yes, we are going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University :))

So after chatting with Alex, here are some of the important lessons we have learned throughout the budgeting process.

1) It takes both people to make the budget. Alex enjoys using excel to make sense of it all, but we both need to be contributing to the conversation about what to budget and how much to put into each category. Fixed expenses are pretty easy, but when it comes to food/entertainment, clothing, and other non-necessities, we need to agree on our numbers.

2) In Dave Ramsey's lessons and the book "Complete Guide to Money," he highlights the differing personalities regarding money in a marriage. One is typically the "nerd" and the other is typically the "free spirit." We took the quiz and found that Alex scored higher on the nerd side, and I scored higher on the free spirit side. This means Alex can have his fun with the budget, but instead of being complacent with the whole process, I need to be engaged and a part of how we budget. I also found that because I handle most of the shopping for our family, I do have valuable (and realistic) input.

3) We waste money. I do not think we live lavishly and we work really hard to not live above our means. However; looking at how we currently spend, it's a little sad to see money not accounted for and wasted in the process.

4) Debt is not fun and paying it off is one of our top priorities. Current expenses and debt are the largest part of our budget.

5) Budgeting is the easy part. It can be pretty fun to put numbers where they need to go to make everything balance, but the execution of it is hard. We aren't learning any new concepts in this class, but we are learning how to implement them and how to stay accountable to our goals.

I know that included in the fun of debt and finances we will learn many more lessons. If you don't currently have a budget, I hope you are encouraged to sit down (with your spouse if you have one) and come up with a realistic plan. I also strongly encourage you to look into attending the Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for help along the way. If you currently have a great budget in place and are living debt free, we admire you! If it wasn't for the large amount of people (at differing income levels!!) who have already accomplished this, we wouldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel like we do now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Meal Plan (6)

Happy Monday!

My mind and my stomach have a love/hate relationship. In their moments of love, they agree on the fact that whole foods filled with vitamins and nutrients are the best option. My mind thinks of delicious and healthy recipes that my stomach then thanks it for. This past week, my mind and stomach have hated each other. My mind has thought of things like "the more cheese, the better," and "ranch goes with everything." Also, ice cream is basically the only thing I have been able to think about. My stomach really hates dairy in excess and has responded in accordance with this. I've basically been walking around with a constant stomach ache and the grogginess that comes with poor food decisions. So there's a brief of the result of no meal planning and constant fast food/eating out for me. 

You'll also find that I am not overly innovative when it comes to the kitchen, so I will repeat meals fairly often. I recently had the realization that I don't need to plan a very "involved" meal for dinner every night- season some chicken, steam some veggies, and call it a night. Why did it take so long for me to realize this? It may be the overachiever in me.

My friend Alysha sent me this picture this week with a text saying "Meal Planning At It's Finest," and I have to say, she's right. So, here's our meal plan this week summed up in a pic. Just kidding :).

So, here's what we are REALLY eating this week:
Bacon-Jalapeno Burger Meat Balls- I am all sorts of nervous about this one. My last experience with a jalapeno was not a very good one (just imagine me crying with bright red eyes, nose, and mouth pouring milk on my face). Also, I wanted to buy premade relish, but Alex wants to try making our own. Worst case scenario, I will just use ketchup. We are trying this one out because we are planning a Whole 30 soon, so we are testing out some recipes before we start. I'm not going to make the homemade mayo or ketchup this time either. I have been eyeing out and planning to buy some dressings/condiments from Tessemae's before we start our Whole 30 though. Check them out! You will actually be able to recognize EVERY ingredient in their stuff :) (and yes, they are a little pricey, but everyone has their own cost/benefit analysis of things).

Paleo Stuffed Sweet Potato-I've made this one before and we really, really, REALLY liked it. Also, it is basically impossible to feel guilty after eating it. I buy nitrate-free bacon (still no luck finding no-sugar added) and everything tastes so much better cooked in bacon grease. :)

As much as I love finding recipes and cooking them, sometimes I come home and do NOT want anything to do with the kitchen. This means I typically end up  picking up fast food. In an effort to avoid this, I did buy some Lean Cuisine frozen dinners. Our grocery store (Harris Teeter) had a sale to get 4 for $10, so I thought it was worth a try. I am interested to see if I like them or not. I tried to stick with chicken/veggie options versus the noodle/heavy sauce dinners---rice and noodles are basically unavoidable with those options though. 

I also have stuff for salads that I pre-prepare so they are easy to grab and eat. Sometimes I put chicken in the salad,but this week I am just going to do peppers, cheese, hard boiled egg, and lettuce. Pretty simple. I like to mix red wine vinegar with olive oil and use that as my dressing. 

I've mentioned in a previous post that we are working hard on a budget for our family and we do factor in eating out. The amount I can spend varies week by week depending on our schedules, but this week I can justify having one lunch and one dinner out. Since I typically go somewhere like Chipotle, Chik-fil-a, or Panera, I can typically stay in budget pretty easily. 

I know our meal plan isn't super exciting this week, but I hope you will try one of these recipes, and if you do, I hope you let me know how it turned out for you! :) Also, if you've tried something recently that you and your family enjoyed, please let me know. I love trying new things!

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Date Night Without My Phone

Last night, Alex and I were able to go on our first date night in a while. We didn't do anything too fancy- dinner at a local "dive" restaurant/bar, but it was great nonetheless. Between all of my recent traveling and his busy work schedule, we haven't had a lot of opportunities to just sit down and talk. Before getting out of the car, I decided I wasn't going to bring my phone into the restaurant.

What I learned was life changing.

1) I actually like talking to my husband. I like our conversation when both of our attention is fully focused on each other. It feels nice to be listened to and not just heard.

2) When him and I disagreed on a fact about something, it was refreshing to not have to pull out my phone and Google it to prove him wrong ;). We just changed the subject gracefully and accepted the "unknown" true answer.

3) I got to get my fair share of food. Alex is a sneaky one. If we get an appetizer, we usually like to split it 50/50, but if it's still sitting on the plate and I'm looking down at my phone, the temptation will overtake him and he WILL eat it. Not last night. I was watching.

I am going to point out that I am joking and poor Alex is usually the subject of my humor. The point is, it was REALLY nice to not have my phone and to focus on spending time with him. So often, we go out and fall victim to sitting next to each other but still looking down at our phones. (It seems to be pretty common for others as well, because we often observe it and then embarrassingly put down our own phones). I want to be more intentional about not having my phone around when I'm with my husband or friends. I want to value the time spent with others and not be so easily distracted.

Do you find yourself getting distracted by your phone when out with others? If so, I challenge you to leave it in the car while you are out with others!

But, then again....some of you are like:

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

How I Ruin Every Surprise Intended For Me

"Hey, Alex....there's an awesome deal for indoor rock climbing on Friday nights--gear, pizza, and unlimited climbing for $13...let's go sometime!"

"Hey, Alex, we should really go rock climbing some Friday night. It sounds so fun...AND THERE'S PIZZA."

"Alex, I know you're sick this weekend, but can we go rock climbing one of these Friday nights? Remember that deal with the pizza?"

"Kelsey, I think we should celebrate Valentine's Day on Friday night instead of Saturday." I respond with "Great! What do you want to do? I think that whole rock climbing thing would be fun!" Alex-disappointment in his voice, "Kelsey....seriously. UGH!"

A for effort, Alex. I promise to let you have your moment someday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What We Expect, But Never Want to Endure

So today is the day I travel back from Michigan where I attended my Grandma's funeral.Times like these always get me thinking about things. A couple of days ago, I was thinking a lot about the things in life that we fully expect to happen, but never want to get the confirmation that it actually does. There are plenty of things personally that I can think of dealing with this exact issue.

-Death of a loved one.

-My husband leaving for a potentially dangerous place in the world for an extended amount of time.

-Learning that something in my body is not functioning 100%.

-Witness or hear about mistakes my future children make that may or may not be fixable.

-Disappointing or hurting a friend or family member.

-Being disappointed by a friend or family member.

and on and on.

I hate AND love that I am constantly reminded how "human" I really am. It's crazy to think that we fully expect all of those listed events to happen, but a lot of times are hit with shock and intense emotion when they do. I'm learning that one of the only things I can control is how I respond to these situations. By that, I don't even mean mentally or emotionally, because I often lose control of that aspect of my life as well. I'm learning that when my response is to go to the One who sees and knows it all, I can feel the most in control. Not that I suddenly have everything figured out, but that there is a peace and and understanding that no matter what comes my way, He's there loving me through it. I hope that no matter what you are going through now, or may come your way in the future, that you experience that same love and peace.

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5. Sometimes that darkness lingers for a while, but He can and will shine through it if you let Him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How We Are Spending Our Tax Refund (AND HOW I WOULD LIKE TO)

So, we are lucky enough to get a tax refund this year. We are using it towards our debt, but I would like to share how I would rather be spending it.

1) 500 essential oils. I'm not putting a brand because I'm not about those brand wars.

2) I know I wrote a post on 10 things to do other than watch Netflix, but let's be real...these pants would be awesome to have. I know, I know they are just sweatpants, but come on, anything marketed as "Netflix Pants" catches my interest.

3) A new or fixed camera....because my dog decided to chew up my old camera. I can honestly say I was so mad I started crying. My favorite part of the situation is calling Samsung and after describing the damages, have them ask "Ma'am, have you tried turning it off and back on to see if that fixes it?" In my frustration, I literally started laughing and remembered that it's just an electronic and there are bigger problems in the world. But seriously, just think about all the dumb YouTube videos I could have created....

4) A shirt about running and insulting the government. I just think it would be ironic to use my tax refund to insult the government. I probably don't even run better than the government with how slow I am. But, then again, maybe I do. Who knows? P.S. Not directed at a specific political party-- I love all the donkeys and elephants in the house.

5) I don't know a better way to say "you're my friend" than with a Pizza Slice Friendship Necklace.I feel like I could really show some love to some my friends with this, especially if given while eating real pizza. 

In all reality, I'm really glad we are using it to pay off debt. My husband and I are working really hard on a budget that allows us to pay off debt, invest in our future, pay current bills/buy necessities, and to give where we are called to give. It's NOT easy, but we both agree on our financial priorities. While having 500 more essential oils and a new camera would be nice, sacrificing those things for now to budget properly and to ensure we are being good stewards of what we CURRENTLY have is so worth it. I'm not saying anyone who purchases those things is guilty of not being a good steward or  is budgeting incorrectly, but at every income level and with every budget, priorities and abilities are different. I try to ask myself these questions whenever I buy something (not only during tax season): Does this benefit our future? Does this benefit our family? Does my husband also see the value of this purchase? Do I NEED it? What am I willing to sacrifice to have this? If you already ask yourself these questions, you know how haunting they can be, but still, it's always better to think through those things versus blindly buying things and wondering where all your money went (me 2 years ago ;)).

And if you owe money this year, I wish I could use my refund to buy you this shirt:

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Favorite Meal Planning Websites

I wasn't the best at meal planning the last week, and due to some last minute traveling, I'm not doing much of it this week either. Instead, I thought I would share my favorite websites to use while meal planning. I like to look at different sites for different "lifestyles" and food preferences.

1) Mix and Match Mama I found out about this blog from my friend Trish, and I can honestly say I have never made anything from her site that I didn't like. She posts really simple, delicious recipes. She's also Sean Lowe's sister if you're a Bachelor fan. ;)

2) Kitchen Treaty She is a vegetarian blogger, but because she is married to a meat eater, she posts recipes that are delicious meatless, but then offers meat suggestions for each recipe.

3) One Lovely Life She posts a ton of different stuff including paleo/Gluten Free/Dairy Free recipes.

4) All Recipes I honestly use this one a lot. I'll think of something I'm in the mood for-for example, one time I really wanted bangers and mash- and search for it. I love that each recipe is rated and that each recipe has helpful comments to make the dish taste even better.

5) The Clothes Make the Girl AWESOME paleo blogger. She has so many great recipes and offers various ways to alter the dish.  I have two of her books, and love that she makes cooking easy.

6) Against All Grain She is another great paleo blogger. She has some yummy looking stuff on there I am excited to try!

7) The Girl Who Ate Everything I've made quite a few dishes from her site, and I really liked them!

While I frequently visit all of these websites, I also LOVE Pinterest. You can follow me here to see what I pin. If you haven't been to any of these sites before, I hope you find some yummy meal ideas! If you try a recipe from one of these sites, or if you've already made one, I'd love to hear about what you made and how it turned out!

Happy meal planning!


Friday, February 6, 2015

Thank You For the Memories, Grandma

2011 was the last year my Grandma knew that I was her granddaughter. In recent years, I would tell her she was my Grandma to which she would just smile and say "oh really?" It was a sad thing to watch, but I will never forget the sweet spirit she held onto until February 4, 2015.

Growing up, my Grandma and Grandpa Warren were a huge part of my life. We lived right around the block from them, so I always rode my bike over there and loved spending time at their house. I want to reflect on some of the memories I hope to never forget.

-My Grandma took me to my first sewing class (she was VERY talented and even won awards for some of the pieces she made). My mom doesn't know how to sew, so my Grandma took it upon herself to make sure we had the basic knowledge and could at least sew on a button. 

-For my birthday every year, she would take me to the store  (usually Limited Too) to pick out a new shirt. She would joke that we were too picky and she wanted to make sure I got something I liked. That time was so special to me and it would usually include a lunch date as well.

-Every time I was at her house, she either had a dessert in the oven or a dessert ready to be eaten. Some of my favorite desserts- lemon cake, peanut butter bars, banana cake, and vanilla cake with chocolate frosting- were desserts she would frequently make. 

-A couple of times before we left for church camp, she would give us a fun shirt she had personalized for us. One year, she gave me a shirt with a cross on it that changed colors in the sun. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

-Every Christmas morning that we lived in Aurora, we would go over to her house and make AMAZING biscuits and gravy. 

-Growing up, I had an American girl doll, and she would always make matching dresses for me and my doll. I loved matching outfits with my doll.

-When I was in fifth grade, I had to do a big project on Betsy Ross, and one of the things I was supposed to do was dress up like her. Two days before the project was due, I asked her if she could make me a dress for it. Two days before the due date. TWO DAYS. I remember her working long and hard to make sure it was done and the result was a beautiful white and light blue dress. After that. I was amazed at the sewing miracles she could produce.

-Every time I walked into her house, she would be in the kitchen watching either the Cubs game or the news.

-Every Halloween, she would give us the KING size candy bars! That was a huge deal to me and I always wanted to skip the other houses and just go to Grandma's.

-She always LOVED showing me pictures from her travels to Switzerland to see my Aunt Marti and Uncle Urs. I always loved looking at the pictures and begged her to take me with her sometime.

-My dad always liked to act like he was a perfect kid, so I loved going to her house and getting dirt on him to prove that he DID misbehave sometimes.

I have so many more memories with my Grandma, and I am so grateful for the time and memories I have with her. When I saw her this past July, I sat with her and looked through old photos from her wedding and of my dad, aunts, and uncles from when they were little. Her face lit up as she looked through pictures of her life so long ago. I would like to also mention that my Grandpa was the one who has loved and cared for her through all of these changes. The last time I was there, he left for a few minutes and as he walked back in, she pointed to him and told me "there's the love of my life right there." The unconditional love and service I saw demonstrated through him is one I hope to show in my marriage every day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

5 Ridiculous Things That Make Me Feel Helpless

I often encounter (ridiculous) situations in which I feel helpless. Here are a few of them.

1) Opening a jar. You'd think after all of these years, they would make it a little easier. If my husband is away for any reason, forget it. I stick with boxes or cans (or, you know, peels because I'm so healthy and ONLY eat the freshest of fruits and veggies 100% of the time ;)).

2) Getting a piece of silverware stuck in the disposal. This happened to me just last week. It was pretty terrifying. First, I hear the awful "gurgle gurgle" of my disposal attempting to rip apart my spoon. Then, I try to pull out said spoon. No budging. I then Google search something like "how to get silverware out of the disposal." No help. Then, I realize pliers are a pretty handy tool that may do the job. They do. Although I found a solution, this hour of my life was spent pacing, freaking out, and searching my couches for pennies and dimes to pay for a new disposal. (My husband just happened to be away for work related reasons that night). Moral of the story: GETTING SILVERWARE STUCK IN THE DISPOSAL IS SCARY, BUT PLIERS WILL HELP GET IT OUT!

3) Losing my keys. I lose my keys about once a week. I don't know how or why, but it happens. And I tear up my house looking for them. 

4) Taking a picture with my husband. I'm serious. I need help with this one. Everyone knows that it takes at least 10-15 pictures to find one you like. Well, he will purposely make faces like these:

I now have to bribe him with "if you take two good pictures, you will not have to take another one for the rest of the night."

5) Attempting to lift weights at the gym. Seriously, I have NO IDEA what I am doing.

Okay, so I've only listed five different things, but I assure you, the craziness does not stop there. Hopefully this list helps you feel better about your life, but if you happen to have some of the same struggles as me, we can get through them together. 


(This was inspired by Mama Kat's writing prompt)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know that only one of you will be reading this, but on your anniversary, I wanted to write a thank you to both of you.

Mom, I wanted to thank you for showing me that love truly is eternal and doesn't pass over time. Every tear you cry and every hour spent missing dad is a testament to just how much you love him.

I am so grateful for your example as a married couple and as parents, and I have been blessed with so much love and so many great memories that I hope to bring into my family.

Dad, thank you for loving mom like Christ loves the Church. You never yelled or said anything disrespectful to her. In her tears and hurt, you loved and cared for her. You truly sought to bring joy into her life and into our family. You pointed her to Christ when she doubted herself. You taught me that there is a man in the world who will love me just as I am (and luckily I married one). You showed me that marriage and parenting aren't easy, but that together we can get through anything. You refused to judge or criticize others, but instead met people where they were at and longed to see the best for them. (I know this because I remember you coming home from work with a heavy heart for coworkers going through really hard times). I am so thankful that you chose mom, and while I wish you were still here physically, I know your love will always be here.

Mom, thank you for loving and serving dad well. Thank you for all the silly things you said that made him smile (I won't post them ;)). Thank you for your constant prayer for dad and for us. I know that in so many situations, you truly were the glue that held us all together. Thank you for showing me the importance of date nights and spending valuable time with my spouse. Thank you for showing me what it looks like to be content in times of financial security---but also in times of financial struggle and the unknown. Thank you that I saw you and dad laughing together more than anything else. Thank you for your heart to serve--at work and at home. I thank you that I can still call you with concerns and you always point me to Christ. Thank you for always encouraging me to love Alex and too seek the best for him when sometimes I am so focused on what I want. I'm sorry that dad isn't here and I know every day your heart breaks, but I continue to pray for healing and a peace in His love. I thank God for the gift of having you two as parents.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Do I Think About?

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about my struggle with depression (Click here if you missed it). In that post I quoted a verse that I read last Wednesday-- Romans 8:5 "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds on what the Spirit desires." I said in my post that when I read it, I wasn't quite ready to deal with it. So, this morning, I decided to dive into that verse. 

1) So often my mind is set on changes I would like to see--in my husband, in my friends, in myself. I don't think wanting change is inherently bad, but so often my desire is self seeking and based on my perceptions. Also, I am loved JUST as I am, so I am constantly convicted to love others with the same grace and acceptance I have been given. My prayers for other are changing from "change this part of them" to "change my heart and teach me how to pray for and love this person." 

2) So often my mind is set on really, REALLY petty things. I have a constant battle with my obsession with reality tv and celebrities. It is ridiculous and pathetic actually. I feel like scum every time I finish watching a show or reading a tabloid, and it never contributes anything positive to my life. Instead of having my mind set on catching up with the latest drama, I should be praying for our world filled with a lot of broken and hurting people (myself included!). (P.S. I'm really embarrassed to share my struggle with reality tv and celebrity gossip--it's just a personal conviction of mine that I find myself failing all the time).

3) So often my mind is set on seeking security in any way possible. I consider myself a Type B personality with a ton of Type A characteristics (or maybe it's the other way around). I like to have a plan and change is OKAY as long as we've planned for it. (Doesn't make sense, I know). So often I find myself praying for things to go according to my plan and that my will be done.It is hard for my mind to comprehend that I serve a God who sees SO much more than my mind could even fathom, and that sometimes His plan doesn't guarantee MY security. I don't want my mind to be set on living a life simply focused on how to make MY life better and more comfortable. 1 Corinthians 10:24 "No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." 

I've listed just a few examples of things typically on my mind. Like I've mentioned before, I am constantly thinking, so please do not think this list is exhaustive...I've got a whole lot of stuff going on up there that makes me thankful for Christ's never-ending patience and grace with me. 

My intention with this post is to show that even though I follow Christ and would openly say that, I still don't have it all figured out. As I spend time in the Word and prayer, I am finding myself putting less emphasis on trying to make myself perfect, but instead, I am focusing on the One who is perfect and loves me despite my imperfections. I hope you experience that same love today. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Struggle With Depression

**By no means am I a medical expert, nor is it my intention to discount medical advice. I would just like to share my experiences and how I cope with depression. I do not claim to have a cure nor do I believe it is fair to compare depression in different people. We are uniquely (and wonderfully) made, and that includes our minds and how we process/cope with different situations.

This morning, I faced a dark cloud that has been hovering over me for the past week. Depression is something that creeps into my life--sometimes with reason, and sometimes completely out of nowhere.

Last Sunday morning, I woke up and cried because I didn't want to participate in life. While I didn't cry every morning following, I still woke up with a lingering feeling of  hopelessness and an inability to process how to "get through" another day. It breaks my heart even writing this now because if you know me, you know I am generally a happy and positive person. It makes me sad that my mind goes to a place of a complete fixation of how unhappy I am.

"To know the truth about ourselves, however, we must first be willing to turn off the distractions and be alone."-Skye Jethani

I'm a thinker...meaning I am constantly analyzing and trying to figure out what is going on (especially in my own mind). I had to take some time to reflect on how I felt (and why) (and that is hard, because when you don't feel well, allowing yourself to come face to face with that can be ROUGH).

I spent a lot of time in the Bible. I was not looking for an inspiring verse to cheer me up, I was simply reading His Word to seek out and learn more about God. One verse did stick out to me on Wednesday...Romans 8:5 "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds on what the Spirit desires." This was a bit convicting, but I wasn't ready to ask myself what my mind was set on. 

I spent time praying for others and focusing on those in my life who were also going through some sort of hardship. This helped to take the focus off of me because honestly, everyone is facing some sort of battle at one time or another. It also made me feel silly for feeling like I did because I know some people are dealing with some pretty intense stuff. However; I think it is so important to love and serve those in your life, but not to a point where you discount your own issues and push them to the side (they don't disappear...).

I spent a lot of time crying. I am not a crier, so all of the crying frustrated me even more. I was struggling with pride in my inability to hold myself together. I was struggling with my perceived weakness, and I was struggling with the fact that I couldn't fix myself. (This is all very humbling and makes me so grateful to serve a God who doesn't require me to have it all together). 

All of that brings me to this morning. I made my coffee and bagel (with peanut butter :)), had my Bible and notebook open and ready, sat down and just started crying. Hysterically crying. Like to the point where my dog came up to me and started snuggling me and rubbing his face on me (cutest thing ever). I vocally shared with God everything that was on my heart; my hurts, my frustrations, my own failed attempts to be a loving wife, sister, daughter, friend. I cried for change in my own heart. I cried for understanding. Finally, I faced what I had been longing for all this time. All I wanted to hear was "I understand that you are hurt and I love you." I don't need to be told that my hurt is justified (sometimes it's not...sometimes it is based on assumptions and unfair conclusions). I don't need to be told I'm right. I don't need to always understand why some things happen the way they do.

"I see your pain and I love you."
"I feel your hurt and I love you."
"I am with you through this." 

All of this showed me that I serve a God who doesn't always take me out of situations, or immediately heal my heart, but instead is with me through it. Through Him, I hope this is my response to those in my life who are hurting. It is only through Christ that I can be renewed in the midst of difficulty.