Sunday, December 29, 2013

December books.

I read three books this month, which is a lot for me. I think reading is a lost art today, meaning that not many people free read. I really enjoy reading and I definitely want to do it more!

Here is what I read:

#1- Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. This is written by a comedian who lives in NYC with his five children in a two bedroom apartment. Wow! He writes, very comically, about being a dad. It's a funny, entertaining, light read.

#2- Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper. This is a fictional story written from the perspective of 11-year-old Melody Brooks, who was born with cerebral palsy. This is an incredible story. She is unable to talk or care for herself, so everyone just assumed that she was mentally handicapped as well. Everyone treated her like a baby, while all along she is actually incredibly smart and has a photographic memory. Her parents and neighbor fight for her, and it's an amazing story of her learning and eventually being able to speak through a computerized machine. It's a sad story, filled with heartbreak of how some treat her, but it's an emotional, inspiring, and quick read.

#3- Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. This is an incredible story about a girl who felt called to overseas ministry. She went on a short term mission trip her senior year of high school and fell in love with Uganda. She moved there and lives there permanently now. She ended up adopting 14 orphan girls and started a non-profit ministry called Amazima, who sponsors children to go to school and provides their basic needs. 

I would recommend all three of these books!

Birthday and Christmas 2013.

First off, I must admit that I did a really bad job of capturing photos in December. I did really well the rest of the year, but December fell apart. During my birthday week, I was really sick and didn't even think about taking pictures. While we were gone over Christmas, I forgot my charger, so I could only take limited pictures. Whoops.

For my birthday, we didn't do much this year, which was okay. Hopefully Kley and I can do something fun in January to celebrate more. My birthday was on a Friday this year, which was nice! My kids were so great at school, and I got lots of presents! It was really fun. For dinner, my whole family went out to Cosi Cucina. It was a good, low key night.

Saturday, before we left, we were able to see my good friend Stephanie who was home from DC!

Sunday, we left for OC for the big Ver Steeg Christmas gathering.

Here are the women's gift tables. Kley's family goes all out for this! There were three different tables- bath, beauty, and home- and we did different trivia games and we each got a gift from all three tables. 

Women opening gifts!

Elizabeth (Kley's sister), and cousins Ali and Ella.

Driving through the Maurice lights on the way home. We always did that when I was younger, so it was nice to do it again with Kley! (We didn't end up making it to Jolly Holiday Lights this year, so this will have to suffice.)

On Monday we left OC and headed to Rapid City, SD. My grandparents and aunt's family on my mom's side live there, so we had Christmas in SD this year! My grandparents moved to a condo this year, so it was different not to be at their house. The first two nights we stayed at a nunnery. Yes, you read that correctly. We stayed at the monastery, because it's super close to their new condo and cheaper than a hotel. The last two nights we stayed all at a bed and breakfast together.

Opening presents at the Skea's house (my aunt and uncle).

The gang.

My cousin, Rachel, and her daughter, Taylor. It was our first time meeting Taylor!

Hanging out at the Black Forest Inn (bed and breakfast).

Merry Christmas from the De Jong's!

Christmas dinner tables.

#1- Great Grandma (she's 105!), cousin Alexandra, brother Keaton, grandpa, grandma, and cousin Alecia.

#2- Cousin Riley, cousin Carter, sister Kayla, cousin Rachel, her daughter Taylor, Aunt Julie, Uncle Neil, cousin Victoria, and cousin Ethan.

#3- Aunt Kris, Uncle Jim (you unfortunately can't see him), Uncle Jeff, sister Karlie, husband Kley, me, and my dad (my mom took the picture). 

Friday we headed back to OC for family Christmas with the De Jong's and Christmas with his grandparents. We headed home last night and are doing family Christmas with my family tonight! (And see my good friend Lauren this afternoon, who is home from Denver!)

Merry Christmas! Hope you had a great one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy birthday, Mom!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday- happy birthday mom! I am very blessed by my mom. She is definitely one of God's biggest blessings to me. She is always there for me and is so encouraging. My mom is a great example of doing what God has called her to do, and doing it well. She is a great servant for Christ, and is a wonderful wife and mother. I hope to be like her in so many ways when I become a mom. (I hope to be like her now, too!)

Proverbs 31:29- Many women to noble things, but you surpass them all.

To sum it up- Mom, you're the best! I love you!

I know these pictures are a repeat from my Mother's Day post awhile back, but I don't have many old pictures on my computer. I think they are great enough to repost. :)

We went out for dinner last night for her birthday, but unfortunately I was not feeling well at all. Thankfully today is my day off from work, or I would have called in sick. Sorry to be a party pooper!

Christmas celebration!

We are going to be gone for basically all of Christmas visiting family, so it was nice to be home all of last weekend and to do some things here!

Friday night we went to The Christmas Apple with my family at their church. It was written and produced by one of the members there. It was really good for a church production! 

The set.

My family, minus Keaton (not home from college yet).

Saturday we were home and together all day, which was so great! I did some cleaning/grocery shopping, and we had our Christmas date at night. We did it a little differently this year and kind of bought our own gifts. Kley wanted a microphone for his guitar playing, so we went to Guitar Center for him and he picked it out, which is great because I would have never known which one to pick. Then we went to Old Navy for me and I bought some clothes! It was fun, and nice that we got to do it together. We went to Pizza Ranch together for supper, because we had a gift card. Kley loves Pizza Ranch, because he grew up in NW Iowa, so he was pumped. I think we were the only couple in the whole place though- more of a family place instead of date night, ha. 

Then we were going to go through Jolly Holiday Lights with my family, but the line was insanely long, so we went for ice cream instead. I want to go back, though! Jolly Holiday Lights is a huge light display that you drive through, and different companies sponsor a display for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Merry Christmas! Hope you are doing some fun things to celebrate.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Favorite Videos.

Here are links to some of my current favorite videos. Enjoy! (We certainly have!)

K'Mart's ship your pants commercial

Jay Leno interviewing 100 year old lady- I want to be like this when I am 100.

5 guys, 1 piano- What Makes You Beautiful- This is incredibly cool, I want to join and be the 6th.

5 guys, 1 piano- Angels We Have Heard On High

Evolution of Music- Pentatonix- I know I am behind the times, but I just learned about Pentatonix and they are awesome.

John Mayer- Something Like Olivia acoustic- Love everything about this video. Wish my name was Olivia when I listen to this. :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Merry Christmas and happy winter! We got beautiful snow on Sunday, so it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

This post is bittersweet. Kley's stomach has not been doing well this semester, and he has missed a lot of class. Because of this, we recently decided for him to withdraw from the rest of this semester. This means that he will be taking another semester, and graduating later than originally planned. (Read the message below that I sent to many of our family/friends.)

Dear family and friends,

    Hello! Hope you are having a great December and are enjoying all the Christmas festivities. We wanted to email to let you know about some of our recent news, so you can know what's going on with us.
    For those of you who don't know, Kley has a stomach condition called ulcerative colitis. In a nutshell, that means that he has ulcers in his colon.
     This semester, Kley's stomach has not been doing well. Usually his stomach has an occasional flare-up, but it's been way worse than usual, which has resulted in him missing a lot of class.
     To avoid a really long email, we decided last weekend that Kley would withdraw from the rest of this semester at Drake Law and not take his finals, due to missing so much class and not feeling adequately prepared.
     This means that Kley will be taking an extra semester, so he will be graduating in December of 2014, a year from now, instead of in May. So, we will still be moving so Orange City, IA after graduation, just not as soon as originally planned. For those in Des Moines, you are stuck with us a little longer! :)
      This was a very difficult decision, but we feel at peace about it and know that this is what God has called us to right now. It's much better to take an extra semester and be okay, than to get poor grades and get in trouble with his GPA by forcing finals. It was disappointing to alter our "life plan" schedule, but we are trying to look on the bright side and are so thankful that God is the ultimate planner, not us. He will provide!
     In the mean time, we are hoping that withdrawing will take away much of the stress that Kley was feeling, and that this will help his stomach. Hopefully we can relax over Christmas and he can start next semester with a clean slate.
     Thank you for your support, love, and prayers. We love you all and Merry Christmas!
Kley and Kelsey 

     I was pretty upset about it for awhile. I am a very organized and planned person, to a fault sometimes, and it was really hard for me to let my life plan change. But, God has been molding my heart and Kley and I both feel at peace about this decision. This is where God is leading us right now, and He will provide. He always does and never fails. The picture might look different than what I want, but the details come together in a much more beautiful way when following Him than when I try to plan alone.
     One of the things that hit me the most was on Sunday at Church. Our small group was talking about Mary, and one of the points was this: If you want to be used by God, you have to be willing to be interrupted. That spoke to me instantly and has been continuing to do so over the last few days. Thinking about Mary in that way was something I'd never done before. Mary's life plan was definitely interrupted by having Jesus, but she embraced what God has chosen and called her for. When Mary is mentioned in the Bible, she is following her call in being Jesus' mother. 
     I want to embrace His calling for me, whatever that is. Even though sometimes it's difficult or different than what I want, His way is always better. Thank you, God, for being the ultimate planner and providing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowflakes up close.

I highly recommend that you check out these pictures of snowflakes up close. So cool how this guy rigged his camera up to do this!

God's creation is amazing, how each individual snowflake is unique and beautiful.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Love.

My husband is the best. I am so honored and blessed to be able to be his wife. He is full of light- smiles at everyone, well-liked by all, looks for the best, intentionally seeks people out, and is the most positive person I know.

This has been a rough semester for Kley. He has a stomach condition, called ulcerative colitis, and this has definitely been a valley in terms of overall health. But, Kley doesn’t complain. In fact, he called me out the other day of complaining more about his condition than himself. He is an example of taking what comes at you and making the best. God has placed us in this position right now, and Kley does well at trusting.

Kley’s faith is strong, and teaches me to love Him more. When I waver, he lifts me up and points me back to Him. He is a good leader. He trusts Him, and that’s the best quality. He leads our small group well and sacrificially serves and encourages.

He always knows the right thing to say to make me feel better. Hearing Kley tell me that everything will be okay is all I need sometimes. He makes me laugh, picks me up and hugs me, and tells me my butt looks really good in yoga pants (which he calls wife pants). He cleans the toilet, pulls my hair out of the shower drain, takes the garbage out in the middle of the winter, and kills all the bugs. When I’ve had a bad day, he will cook dinner sometimes (which is either mac and cheese or frozen pizza, but oh well). About a month ago, he randomly brought me flowers home just because. Last week, when I got home from work, he kissed me and told me he was madly in love with me.

When we were long distance over the summers, Kley would drive to Sioux City with me (an hour away) on my drive home just so we could have one more goodbye. I cried every time, even though I would see him again in a week or two, and he would wipe my tears and tell me it wouldn’t be like this forever (and now we are married with no more goodbyes!). One of my favorite things was driving around Minneapolis, looking at the downtown lights and million dollar houses, just talking.

I will never forget the way he looked at me the first time we saw each other on our wedding day. What an incredible moment that was.

Kley goes for walks with me, watches girly movies, and strokes my hair as I fall asleep at night. He got a pedicure with me on our honeymoon because it was free, even though he hated it and his pinky toe ended up falling off after (and now says he will never get another). He has endured many “torturous” trips to Target and the mall (he doesn’t say it’s torture, but I know he doesn’t love it). If I need something in bed or if someone left the light on, Kley will always get up to get it for me. He made last minute medicine trips late at night when I was sick. He is very low maintenance and content with what he has. He does the dishes for me every night.

Kley has started working at my school this year with the after school program, and what a blessing that has been. I love watching him there. He speaks in crazy accents and dances around, and the kids definitely love him. He has led worship with the kids and I adore watching him lead story time. I am so excited to have children together.

Kley, you are definitely God’s biggest blessing to me. I hope that I can love you well, like you love me, and that we can grow old together. Knowing that I can come home to you and that you are always there for me is such a gift.

I love you and am so incredibly thankful for you.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wishin' and Hopin'.

When I was thinking about this post, I thought about this song from My Best Friend's Wedding.

I am involved in a women's Bible study that meets on Tuesday nights. I initially was hesitant about joining, because of the whole busy factor, but I am so glad that I did and God clearly led me there. We are reading Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow, and it's speaking to my soul. It's basically about worry and anxiety, which is something I struggle with.

Last week we discussed being content in our current circumstances. It was a convicting chapter for me, and also encouraging. It's so easy to get wrapped up in planning for the future, that I miss some of the blessings God is giving me right now.

This is especially true for me currently, as this next year will be huge for us, with graduation, moving, buying a house, children possibly, Kley starting to work...lots of change. All good things, but it's been a struggle for me to trust God in His ultimate plan, because I want to be the planner and have everything work out exactly like I want.

The question that really hit me was: Do you believe that God is the Blessed Controller of all things in your life?

Sadly, recently I have been thinking and acting like the answer to that question is no.

God has placed me in these exact circumstances right now for a purpose, and if I am wrapped up in something else, then I am missing the blessings God is lavishing on me today. I don't want that.

It's not bad to think about and plan for the future. But, I need to be trusting enough to allow Him to work. Trust His timing and not act like I am God, when I am clearly not.

God, thank you for your perfect plan and timing for me. You are the Blessed Controller of my life. I don't want to wish and hope for what I want, but what You want. Your plans and purposes for me are GOOD, even if it doesn't always appear that way to me. Give me faith to trust what You say, that You're good and Your love is great! (lyrics from one of my current favorite worship songs)

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Thanksgiving 2013 was a great one! Hope it was for you as well! 

Kley and I both had Thursday/Friday off of work and school, which was really nice. We stayed home (in Des Moines) for the first part. Keaton and Karlie were home from college, but Karlie had to go back for the weekend for v-ball practice because her team is sweet and is going to nationals next week! It's fun to watch her team because they are super good. :) 

So, Wednesday night after work, we headed to my parents and had dinner and played Taboo. 

Thursday morning I attempted to make chocolate pretzels (like I did last year at Thanksgiving and here), but it bombed a little. Last year I melted a bunch of chocolate and poured it in, never thinking of using Hershey's kisses. (Duh!) This year I tried the kisses, which is much easier (although crazy taking all of the wrappers off), but unfortunately I burned my first two batches beyond repair. I was bummed. But, I bought more to make later. Then, since I burned the chocolate, we were running out of time, so we sped cleaned and got ready for brunch.

We headed over to my parents again for the rest of the day. We had delicious brunch, and then hung out until dinner. We went for a walk, sat around, looked at Black Friday ads (but did not go- it's too much), read a book, and prepared food. It was awesome.

Here are a few snapshots of dinner and my lovely family.

Prepping the bird!

It's ready!

Family shot (check out my brother- what a cave man.)

After dinner we headed to the Groen's (family friends) house for games. It was so fun! My best friend, Stephanie, was home from DC, so we got to see her!

We took Schut family pictures on Friday morning, which was freezing but good. Then we headed up to OC for the weekend! The Ver Steeg clan (my MIL's side) got together Friday night at the Mexican restaurant and then went to the Swart's house (cousins) for treats/games.

Here are some pics of Kley's family- so nice to get a shot with everyone!

Today we are headed to see grandparents and hang out (hopefully watch a movie)!

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kley's birthday celebration weekend!

Even though Kley's birthday was in October, this weekend was the big celebration! My parents gave Kley dinner at Fogo (his favorite restaurant) and tickets to the John Mayer concert! So we headed up to Minneapolis for the day/night. 

It was really awesome! We had a great weekend. First, we met my brother at Fogo. If you have never been there, it's an experience (an expensive experience), but Kley LOVES it. It's meat heaven for him. If you've never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, it's basically men walking around with gigantic skewers of all different cuts of meat, and you can try whatever cut and however much you'd like. It's pretty insane, but a great place for Kley's meat love. :)

He was pretty pumped, if you can't tell.

There is bad window glare, but you can see the meat turning on the skewers. 

Each person gets one of these- turn it to red if you are eating or full, and turn it to green if you want meat!

Salad bar trip. They have an intense salad bar also!

(They had heart of palm in the salad bar. Do any of you know what that is? I didn't, and I should have tried it. It's a vegetable harvested from the inner core or growing bud of certain palm trees, according to google.)

Kley and my brother, Keaton. 

Kley and I.

Then we headed to the concert! Phillip Phillips opened. 

John Mayer! This was such a good concert, and great that we both like him, so we both loved it! Kley had always wanted to see him, so this was an awesome birthday present! It was a great show.

We also had amazing seats- best we've ever had at a concert by far! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

He sang so many great songs, but this was the backdrop for Olivia- makes me wish my name was Olivia! :)

Encore at the end was Gravity.

We stayed the night at the Downtown Marriott, and I had Kley's best friend and wife, David and Jacquie, surprise him at the hotel this morning for breakfast. He was very surprised, and it was so good to see them!

It was a GREAT mini trip! :)

Hope you all had a great weekend!