Saturday, August 25, 2012

Just Because

There is a lot on my mind tonight... and to write a deep blog post at this point would be dangerous.

Very dangerous.

So I shall tread in safer waters... for now.

First, my picture.

Those are my nieces. They are beautiful and I love them. From L-R:
Lola Mae: The blonde beauty with a soft heart.
Naomi Tasha: Spunky & sweet.
Sophia Richelle: We call her the "diva." She can dance better than me!
Tillie Sue: Energetic and smart and a candy-holic.
Sylvia Ann: 2 (or 3 now??) going on 20.

Anyway, there you have it-- the female representation in Kaiser grandchildren so far. Time will only tell how many I will contribute!

Onto other things...


1) I have developed an extreme dislike of high fructose corn syrup. While I have decided not to take a vegetarian lifestyle, I have definitely added it into my eating habits as much as possible, and with that comes a lot of other education concerning my aspiring "health-nut" status. Which includes all of the anti-sugar articles about how white sugar may as well be a drug. And even worse: high fructose corn syrup, which can be found in pretty much everything we eat that is packaged or processed, but the obvious culprits would be soda & candy.

Anyway, I know that coming from me, this may be shocking, especially considering that my motto has always been "Always save room for dessert." I am not against a dessert here and there (or a Starbucks frapp, especially when I have earned my 15th star and get a free one!), but I just feel it should be eaten in moderation. Furthermore, a lot of the products we think may be "healthy" are actually not healthy. And if you're going to enjoy something sweet, at least make sure it's the real deal-- made with REAL sugar.  It's not ideal, but it's better than the alternative (the deadly HFCS!) Or, a sliced peach or banana + peanut butter can do the trick, and it's a much healthier snack! (Another trick is using a healthy sweetener-- like honey. Goes delicious with a lot of things!)

P.S. This has only solidified further my 5-years-running soap box on my dislike of diet soda!!! (Sorry to all my diet-drinking friends...) (It also may be noted that I do have some cans of Pepsi underneath my sink and I drink one from time to time with my popcorn. HOWEVER, it is Pepsi Throwback... made with real sugar :)

2) I consume wayyyyy too much popcorn. BUT. A healthy way to enjoy this snack (and thus it is justified in my mind):

*I use organic white popping kernels from King Farms.

*I make it over the stove top with neutral-tasting coconut oil. (I have since learned that extra virgin olive oil is best enjoyed at room temperature for full health benefits, and it oxidizes at temperatures needed to cook popcorn in it, so coconut oil is a healthier choice because it can withstand higher temperatures!)

*I season it with sea salt.

TOTALLY justifies eating a ginormous bucket of it every single night.


3) Enough on food... I went bowling tonight and scored a 99. There is a reason I never joined a bowling league... although my childhood best friend's dad owned a bowling alley... I guess it didn't really ever pay off.

4) Lily, my cat, found my sock puppet stuffed animal and removed her from my book shelf. I find it laying around in random places in my house. She likes to attack it when she's in a playful mood, or she just carries it around in her mouth.

She is also quite the hunter. She spots every single bug that gets into my house and even leaps into the air (she is a VERY good jumper!) and catches them. She swats them to the ground and bats them around until they die.

She also caught a mouse from our studio basement a month or so ago. It was so gross.

Meanwhile, my house will be rodent and insect-free as long as she is around!

5) I should go to bed.

Love you all!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Quit!

A few months ago, Kristi approached me about meeting with some well-known photographers in the area. She was nervous.

"I can't imagine getting in contact with them," she told me. "Why would they want to meet with us?"

Her anxiety was apparent. But we wanted to do it, because we thought they could be a tremendous help to us and our business.

They are extremely successful photographers in their business. While they are a couple I have always known about and admired, I hadn't looked up to them as long as Kristi had. To her, meeting them would be like a young college basketball player meeting Michael Jordan.

She took the first step in getting in touch with them.

A couple of weeks later, we met and had lunch with a wedding planner. She was a huge encouragement in our life, and she suggested that we also meet with this couple.

However, we had heard nothing.

And often, silence can be interpreted as a "Leave me alone," or "No," or "I'm too busy to reply." We often jump to negative conclusions when there is no response.

"Do I dare contact them again?"

I told her, Yes.

She did, and we heard back from the husband of their team, almost immediately. As it turned out, they had not received our initial message.

Kristi and him started exchanging messages and planned to get together. However, he was in the middle of a busy time, and said he would get in touch when it slowed down a bit.

That happened to be 2 months later. Not a big deal, but it was a bit of a wait. Yet, we had no idea how the Lord used that timetable in His perfect way.

On a warm summer morning, Kristi and I stepped into Thirty-Thirty Coffee in Peoria and ordered drinks. We sat at a table, and pretty soon, he arrived.

I thought it would just be him. But she came, too.

He was tall and scruffy, friendly & warm. She was quiet and beautiful and captivating.

It is funny, meeting with people that you have never met, for the first time. Our intent was to get professional business advice from them-- how did they work together? How did they create such a successful business?

So we started off with the talking. Kristi looked to me, as I am usually the one to give the synopsis on "our story."

I gave a brief and somewhat surface story of our business history. It was meager at best; trite, at worst.

After my little performance, he looked to her and said, "Do you want to start?"

This is when it got good.

It was, like I later told Kristi, as if God sent them as angels to us. For such a time as this, He knew what we needed.

The next 2-3 hours were spent talking about God. She told us their story. Their success, their struggles, their sadness, their celebrations. She was vulnerable, and honest, and lovely. She did not sugar coat, but she told us the truth in love.

She told us about the "glacier." When we see a glacier, we see the 10% that sticks out of the water. What we don't see is the 90% underneath. Most people live their lives in the10%-- which is what most people see. Yet the 90% is neglected... even though it is the most important part. Because without the foundation, the inner workings, the thoughts and feelings and values and beliefs of that 90%-- there would be no 10%. Yet the 10% is all we ever let anyone see.

She told us about asking honest questions. What makes me sad? What makes me angry? What makes me nervous? What does God say about these feelings?

She told us how her and husband allowed their business to take over their lives. They exchanged good family life, a meaningful marriage, friends, and faith for a successful business. To others, the 10% looked good. But for them and their personal lives, the 90% was neglected.

She told us to be real. To be honest. To be open... to examine what God has done, why He has brought us here, and what He wants us to do.

Kristi sobbed. I sat quietly.

He was a lot like me, emotionally. She was a lot like Kristi, in terms of personality. It was so important to hear their story and see how God brought them through it.

She suggested reading a book, called, "I Quit."

At the end, we all held hands and they prayed for us.

It was like a miniature missions trip... in the middle of a coffee store. Neither Kristi nor I wanted to leave, for fear the joy of the Lord that had been in that place on that morning would leave us.

Kristi immediately bought the book and read it quickly. It helped bring a lot to light. She told me I would benefit from it greatly, and she ordered a copy for me. I read it, and loved it.

The premise of the book is to "quit" living life in such a way that is harmful. Quit being afraid of what others think. Quit lying. Quit dying to the wrong things. Quit denying anger, sadness, and fear. Quit blaming. Quit overfunctioning. Quit faulty thinking.

And quit living someone else's life.

There is no such thing as two people who are the same. In fact, even similar people are often quite different from one another. Which makes those that are different to begin with that much more separate. Kristi and I have learned that... in some ways... the hard way.

Because of differences and because life is so hard, we tend to adopt habits and ways of thinking that are unhealthy. They are defense mechanisms; they are crippling; and they will eventually kill our soul. This book helps to identify those areas and to show us that we can QUIT them.

And in quitting, we become free.

Free to be ourselves. Free to be who God made us to be. Free to rediscover who that person is, and live life in that way.

It is a book I would highly recommend to anyone, because even if you get through life pretty good, I guarantee there are a couple of areas in which every person needs to "quit."

This has been an interesting journey and I cannot wait to see how God continues to show me how to quit the bad and to continue the good.

Love you all!


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Let's Try This.

Before we begin:  I want to start including a picture with each post. Even if it's just something low-key and totally non-related. Today's image is of my car. For those of you who only know my car as "Green T Bug," you might not be able to spot me over the next couple of months!

Green T Bug now has town spirit! Introducing my green beetle... with some new plates! YEA Morton P Fest 2012

I changed my blog template again.

Right, I know.

This time, though, I think I have it close to what I have been wanting.

Despite my vintage-shabby chic-texture-colorful nature, it always seemed clutter-some to apply this style to a blog. Thus, the unrest.

I think what I envisioned but never really settled on was a simpler, cleaner, look.

Which is what this is! So cross your fingers, and hopefully this setup is here to stay (for awhile.)

In other news, I am on a budget. I don't like it... but I'm doing it. It's good for me.

Today, I bought groceries at Aldi. I wasn't sure what the result would be, but here are some notes from my experience:

1) The whole time, I felt like I was in another country (or at least the minority. Nothing like shopping at Kroger in Morton!)

2) Nothing was organized in a logical order (which didn't bother me... I like to be surprised.)

3) There were less choices. (Which was perfect for someone like me, because the more choices, the longer it takes. If I only get 2 choices, then my decision becomes much easier!)

4) There was a long aisle at the end of the checkout process to bag my own groceries (another thing I did not mind.) Also, you pay a quarter to use a cart, but when you return your cart, you get your quarter back (this should help stop my habit of stealing shopping carts.)

5) My bill was 25% cheaper than I usually pay (which is great when on a budget!)

I will be returning to Aldi.

Some of you may be wondering about how my "Eat Your Veggies" diet is going. To be honest, I felt GREAT on it, but I know that I was not getting enough protein. There were days that I got waves of dizziness or just felt hungry ALL the time. I think the Hallelujah diet is definitely legit and works if you can do it full-fledged. But to apply it to your entire diet is difficult, and without being able to do that, someone like me is left... hungry.

I also believe, after doing my research, that raw fruits & vegetables are the best way to eat them. I believe that there are different sources of protein, and raw vegetables is your best source to obtain usable protein and the nutrients you need. I also believe that other sources of protein are not as beneficial, especially meat.

So with all that being said, I am still trying to eat healthy and incorporate as many raw veggies into my diet as possible... but I still eat veggie scrambles with eggs, cooked vegetable & meat meals, yogurt with fruit, cereal with milk, etc... I have found that I can be healthy without having to completely adhere to the codes of the diet.

Still taking my barley twice a day when I can, drinking delicious fruit & veggie smoothies, chomping on my big raw carrots, drinking green tea, and trying to avoid tons of high fructose corn syrup or heavily processed foods. So this search for health has definitely enacted some smart eating choices into my lifestyle :)

Another snack choice I have tweaked-- I was misinformed about the benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. While it IS an excellent choice and so healthy for you, it is not so when you heat it (is best enjoyed at room temperature for full nutritional benefit), so my popcorn theory of being healthy was shot to the ground. Until I learned of coconut oil! It tastes just as delicious on popcorn, and is still great for you when heated up to cook the popcorn. You can even purchase in a "neutral" flavor if you don't care for the coconut taste.

One more thought, then I'll be done. I started reading the blog of one of my older friends who is traveling to Australia, and suddenly I wanted to travel to another country. Every once in awhile, I get the spark to want to go somewhere. After reading of her first day there, it made me itch to go discover someplace else. Top on my list is India, but at this point, I'd be happy traveling just about anywhere if it was new. We'll see what the Lord has in store over the next couple years... maybe another overseas trip... which I would LOVE!

So, there we have it. Another update from me... I'll try to be back sooner this time.