34 Days of Favorites: Smiling

This favorite sounds totally cheesy, but in the last year, I’ve experienced two life-defining moments regarding smiling.

The first happened last summer, when I was together with an old group of friends. We played one of those little games involving a list of questions each person has to answer, and then everybody tries to guess which answers belong to whom.

One of the questions was something along the lines of, “What physical feature do you like the most about yourself?”

That kind of question just makes me feel awkward. How do you answer it in a way that doesn’t sound completely vain?

Well, it’s so hard to choose ONLY one, but I have always considered my eyes to be my loveliest feature…” Or what? I felt so uncomfortable!

Like many women out there, I could easily rattle off a list of things I’d secretly like to change about my physical appearance. But my favorite thing?

I had to think about that for awhile.

I thought about the times when I looked in the mirror, and tried to envision what I liked looking at the most.

And suddenly it hit me – I smile at myself in the mirror.


I feel happier when I do. I like my physical appearance so much better in general when I’m smiling. When I smile, I don’t think about how I’ve never really liked my nose terribly much. A smile is hard to look past.

There. My secret confession is out. (I also talk to myself in the mirror sometimes, but that’s going a bit far, so we won’t explore that habit at all.)

The second defining moment happened when I read about how smiling convinces the rest of your body that you are happy and in a good mood. It gets happy chemicals going, just by going through the motions of smiling.

How fantastic is that?! I’ve thought of it often since. When I’m stressed or grumpy, I purposely try to smile more.

I started using it on Anika, too. Whenever she’s grumpy and complaining, we tell her she has to give us the very biggest smile she can possibly make. Without fail, this ends in laughter.


There is a certain man’s mother out there I’d like to interview, and get some parenting tips from….

Just after we moved to Niverville, an eavestroughing  crew arrived to finish up some work on our new house. Anika and I were doing school work at the kitchen table, and I had a clear view of the guys installing the eavestrouphing.

One of them smiled all the time. He really never stopped. Ever.

At first, I thought he was smiling at the guy he was working with – maybe they were having a funny conversation or something. But he smiled when he worked alone, too.

I mentioned this observation to Anika, and we started sneaking around the house at random times throughout the morning, trying to peak out the windows without being noticed, just to see if the guy ever stopped smiling.

He didn’t.

It would have been kind of freaky, if it hadn’t been so cheerful and refreshing.

I decided to make it my new thing.

I don’t smile ALL the time. I should smile more than I do. But I smile more than I used to, and I do it intentionally.

When things are going badly, grin like a fool, and something is bound to change!

There you go. Of all my favorite things I’ve been sharing, this one is BY FAR the easiest for you to try. Smile at everything for a day, and then come back and tell us if you thought it made a difference! Remember, there’s a prize involved! 🙂

If you’re just joining in, and you want to read more about “34 Days of Favorites”, click here.

And if you want to check out my favorite things from last week, here’s the list so far:

TV Show



Weekend Favorites

We spent the weekend in the city.

Whenever we come into Winnipeg, Ben’s parents welcome us into their home to feed us, babysit for us, and borrow an extra vehicle to us so that Ben and I can run off in opposite directions and get twice as many errands done as we divide and conquer.

We are so, so thankful for all that they do to help out. I keep waiting for the day they get tired of us, but it doesn’t seem to happen.

So we move in and make ourselves at home.

During this time of preparing to move, and dealing with transition, it’s been very helpful to have this place to retreat to.

Our weekend was a mixture of relaxing, and running around like crazy, crossing off a long list of errands.

We even got in a last-minute date night! Can’t remember the last time that happened.

It’s hard to tell which was more enjoyable – the 3-D movie, or the glasses….

Hope you had a great weekend, too!

Slow Down For Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!

I’m kinda glad it’s “official”, aren’t you?! Anika sincerely believes that the weather (and life in general, really) will be dramatically different, now that the calendar says it’s spring.

We’re celebrating.

We went for the first stroller ride of the season.

We played on the play structure, and Kaylia ran through a snow drift in her flip flops.

And we ended up at the lake.

We decided to truly celebrate spring by practicing the fine art of jumping pictures.

And I’ve been thinking about soaking it all in. Oh, that smell in the air. It smells like spring, and evergreen trees. The sun is so warm, and Kaylia’s toes are so bare. These days, it’s good just to be alive.

I am so, so thankful that my “job” involves teaching my girlies to love spring. We play in the sun, and I try to teach them to notice. To slow down, and notice the little things, like the smell and the way something feels, and all the little things that are so easy to take for granted.

I loved this post about learning to slow down to notice, and to fully live:

“The frogs have returned, the frogs and their song.

 Why does the trilling in the throat of a frog do this wondrous thing inside of me?….

That sound. 

A symphony of sound, trilling low and deep, fills the spaces between the trees, lifts us too.

It is like the water, a looking glass of trunks and limbs, like the water itself croons.

With the everyday eyes, I can’t see the singers at all. It takes time for eyes to adjust to stillness, and only the slow really see….”

I want to have eyes that adjust to stillness. I want to truly see spring with all of its wonder and beauty.

It’s time to go slow, and leave behind “everyday eyes”!

How Ben Really Won My Heart

I’ve been trying to think up something to write about for Valentine’s Day, and just kept coming up empty. No ideas. I’ve already shared the story of how Ben and I met, and apparently I had nothing else romantic to say for Valentine’s Day.

But then last night, a memory popped into my mind of a part of the story that I haven’t shared before, and it has to do with one of the things I love most about Ben.

So that is what I will share with you today on Valentine’s Day:

As I’ve written about before, Ben and I met at summer camp, and became good friends. Because he had a girlfriend, I wasn’t really terribly interested in pursuing a friendship after the summer was over, however. I wasn’t all that good at friendships with boys. I’ve always preferred deep relationships, which usually got complicated with boys, so it was an “all or nothing” deal for me. If he already had a girlfriend, then our relationship wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway.

However, after a few months back at Bible school, I heard that Ben was no longer dating anyone, and we happened to meet up at a volley ball game (which sounds so casual, but really I changed my plans for the evening last minute totally because I knew Ben would be there!). Suddenly it seemed like there was a point to being friends again!

Especially since he was so much better-looking than I had remembered from the summer…

We hung out a bunch of times that winter, but Ben definitely took his time. And my dad had given me strict instructions to play “hard to get”, and not let on how interested I was. (Ben was always his favorite, right from the start, and he really didn’t want me to mess anything up!)

So things dragged on far longer than I thought necessary, and I did my best to be mysterious and all that, although Ben let me know later on that it hadn’t really worked, and he always knew I was interested. Sigh.

Well, I did my best.

Anyway, after a few months of “just being good friends”, I was getting extremely impatient. Around that time, another boy entered the scene. To this day, I’m still not really sure what he wanted, as I wasn’t his type at all. He had dated millions of other girls, so maybe he’d just run out of new material, but for whatever reason, I became the object of his attention for a few weeks.

It was extremely annoying, since I had no desire to be that object. He was very forward and smooth, obviously from all the practice, and it always made me feel suspicious.

On one particular weekend, the Bible school I attended was holding a large event, and I was volunteering in the registration booth. Although Ben attended a different college nearby, he came out one evening for part of the event. I played my little “cool and calm” role, but really inside, I was outrageously excited to see him. He very casually mentioned that we should get together sometime, and I very casually agreed that sounded like a good idea.

Then he sauntered off, and I was completely frustrated with him for being totally unreadable and so annoyingly friendly and unflirtatious.

Shortly after that, along came Boy #2 to my booth, where he proceeded to fling himself over the counter and landed right in front of me, practically in my lap. He said he had come to “help” me, and then hung around, whispering in my ear and other annoying things like that.

When he finally left, and I was done working in the registration booth, I went in search of my best friend to tell her everything that had happened.

I ended it all off by wailing to her, “Why can’t BEN be the one throwing himself over counters for me???!!!”

To which she responded, “Because then you wouldn’t like him as much as you do.”

I chewed that one over for the rest of the night, and for a long time to come.

Ben never flirted with me or tried to manipulate my feelings.

Ben treated me with the utmost respect.

Ben was always kind and gentle, and would never stoop to making our friendship into some kind of silly “game”.

Ben was not “smooth”. He was sincere, and his good, good heart showed all the time. Sometimes he wasn’t exactly sure of how to express himself in the best way, but it made him even more enduring.

Ben was patient and took his time, but was definitely, without a question…worth the wait.

Boy #2 soon got tired of me, and moved on.

Ben kept his slow and steady pace. When he finally asked me out on a date, it was wonderful.

And he has always continued to be genuine, sincere, gentle and patient. With me, and with everyone else.

His good, good heart continues to show, and I love him for it.

photo credit: Morgan Braun

Happy 2012!

Did you do anything exciting for New Years Eve?

Our celebrations were extremely exciting. We stayed home and did some snacking, talking, and watching of Heartland.


After the whirlwind of Christmas, and a reunion here at camp with all the summer staff, we were in desperate need of some quiet, relaxing time at home.

This does not result in dramatic photos to share, but it does result in a non-burned-out Kendra.

And now we are ready to face a new year! I love the feeling of a fresh start to the new year. So many possibilities.

I’m planning on spending some time with this list of questions: 20 Questions For Reflecting on 2011

I wanted to do it on New Year’s Eve, but Ben didn’t feel like it. I guess staying up until 2:00am the night before does not prepare one for a contemplative evening with one’s wife. Whatever.

Our girls were very co-operative with the theme of “Quiet and Relaxed”. They spent the weekend playing paper dolls and reading books.

I hope your New Years’ was just what you needed, too!

2011, You’ve Done Well

My friend once said that to instantly move her to tears, all it took was combining pictures and music.

That’s it.

It almost doesn’t matter what the pictures are of, you just put music to them, and you have magic. And I have a big lump in my throat.

I watched such a presentation a few weeks ago, and thought, “Life looks so perfect when it’s made into a slideshow…. I want a perfect life….. Let’s make a slideshow!”

Who knew it could be so easy? I sense a new tradition coming on….Pictures to music at the end of each year! Fun to watch, easy to do, fast transportation to a perfect life and a huge lump in my throat. Big wins, all around.

And it doesn’t hurt that 2011 has been a pretty great year to begin with.

Here’s our little recap:


Empty Camp

Well, it’s all over. The summer staff left on Sunday, and we are relaxing in a very quiet, peaceful setting. We were the only people at camp yesterday, which is a pretty big change after a whole summer filled to the brim with kids and fun and laughter and noise.

Ben is taking a couple of days off before he dives back in. We have Family Camp coming up this weekend, and then Pursuit (the new discipleship program starting here at Red Rock) is starting the following week. I am so thankful that we have a little bit of time to catch up on family time!

We decided to go for a picnic today. We took one of the fishing boats out to Crevice Point, and enjoyed our lunch.

Kaylia has been scared of boat rides all summer, but she like the little fishing boat a lot better than the loud ski boat. She said, “That was a best boat ride ever!”

We’re still in weekend mode around here, but I hope that you’re all having a good week!