September 8, 2013

9.1 // Sometimes I'm organized

// Confession: Sometimes I'm organized.

Not always, but as I have gotten older there are a few disciplines that not only benefit me but actually make my life easier. Meal prep is one of them. I am a pretty health conscious girl. I like to eat well and work out 4 morning's a week before work. This means I have to have breakfast (the MOST important meal of the day--I wouldn't attempt to make it through a work day without it), lunch, snacks, and water all set to go so I can jet out the door by 6:30 AM.

This means Sunday's are my meal prep days. Since I'm already in the kitchen making a mess, I normally just go right ahead and make some dinner's for the week as well. I don't pretend to be a gourmet cook--I like simple, flavorful, and easy. I, like many ladies, am a Pinterest lover for this very reason. Also like many, I have pinned recipes unsure that they're actually good. So here is my, "I actually tried them, and they're yummy" recipe suggestions.

Mexican Salad

This isn't from a Pinterest recipe, I sorta just made this up. Anyone that knows me knows I'm all about mason jar salads. They're my go-to work meal. This one is perfect with a side of tortilla chips. Layer (starting from the bottom) Salsa, chopped red onion, green pepper, red pepper, corn, black beans, and avocado. Don't forget a little salt, pepper, lime juice and cilantro; season to taste. Refrigerate and when you're ready to eat, simply give it a little shake.

Crunchy Apple Chips

I was convinced by the guy at the farmer's market to buy this basket of apples. Which of course I got home and had no idea what to do with them, so I decided to try this recipe for Apple Chips. These are so good and easy. Simply, set oven to 225 degrees F, mix some brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Slice the apples thin (I highly recommend using a mandolin), and use spoon to apply sugar mix (as little or as much as you want-- they don't need a lot, these flavors go a long way). Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place apple slices on, and let them cook for 1 hour, then flip and cook for another hour. Let cool and store in an air tight container.

Baked Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal

To use up more apples, I wanted to make something I could eat for breakfast so I adapted this recipe for healthy baked oatmeal.

2 1/4 cups of oats
1/2 cup of applesauce
1 tbsp flax meal (optional)
1 scoop of protein powder (I use  RAW protein)
1 tbsp honey
1 cup of chopped apples
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups almond milk
1/4 c dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients first, then add remaining. Evenly distribute batter into a greased cucpcake pan. Bake for 20-25 min. Super simple and really good. I nook them for 15 seconds in the microwave at work; perfect coffee sidekick.

I may not have it all together but this is a small discipline that has made my life so much easier.//

August 11, 2013

8.2 // Saved from writer's block

// Confession: This post saved me from writer's block

A lovely little blogger named Lauren (ironic I know), commented on my previous post and nominated me for the Liebster award (thank you!). Thus I was invited to answer these questions. The last month or two have been a bit blank as to what I should write about. I think mostly because my mind is filled with other worried busy nonsense so I can't get a clear connection with my heart and my brain. I've been a bit grumpy lately, I usually avoid writing when I feel like that... I avoid negative speak as much as possible. 

So, here's hoping this gets me out of my funk:

1. Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

What an intense question! I like it. I'd like to avoid cliche answers, but I can't because it's definitely Jesus. I tried for quite a few years to wake up for other people, myself, a job, but all of it left me feeling empty. It wasn't until I started to live less for myself and more for Jesus that my life felt as though it had value. The knowledge God in you changes the way you live. If it doesn't I would challenge that you have a relationship with Him. Once you realize God can use you to make an impact in the lives of those you come into contact with, service become the drive of your heart. I will always maintain the position that people matter immensely to God and therefore should matter immensely to me. 

2. If you were moving across the world to a place that you knew nothing about and you could only take 3 things, what would they be? 

My Bible, no journey would be worth taking without God's truth and promises.
My love, Chase, because life is just better with him by my side.
My dog, Grady, because everyone loves him and he is the best conversation starter ever.

3. What is a song from your past that has defined a certain period of your life?

Desert song was the reason I started writing about my journey with God, in fact, it was called "Season to Sing". I am challenged, pressed, and fulfilled by the struggle to know God more fully -- this song pushed me to keep pursuing & praising Jesus no matter the circumstances.

4. If you knew you could do something and definitely not fail, what would you do?

 Well the fear isn't so much failure but it's more an issue of income-- I would love to just explore the globe, make friends, take photos & write about it!

5. If you were writing a letter to yourself at 16, what would you tell yourself?

This question could be its own post. Honestly, I'm not sure that I would've listened at that stage in my life. Still, I would tell myself that I am valuable and loved. That I shouldn't compromise my values or run away from pain. I would tell myself to be more honest with those I love. To talk more about what I am feeling. To spend more time with my mom and dad. To pursue closer relationships with  my brothers. To serve and love my friends with genuine affection. To have a relationship with God over a relationship with a boy. But mostly I would remind myself that no matter where my decisions take me in this life, God will always be in pursuit of my heart--that He will leave the 99 to find me.

Sometimes we forget about our hearts until something happens that makes us feel it beat. //

August 1, 2013

8.1 // I am not a good Christian

//Confession: I am not a good Christian 

I grew up in Church. I knew the Bible up and down, memorized verses for fun, and was at church all of the time. That's where I learned what I thought it meant to a Christian: you read your Bible, obey your parents, keep the 10 commandments, pray, use fruit of the spirit, and go to Church. I will not deny that all of those things are true and necessary. However, I wouldn't say that doing them means that you have a relationship with Jesus.

For me, that step came much later in life. When I began to REALLY pursue God, I saw Christianity differently. Early in journey, I came to understand that He doesn't require these tasks of me. Yet, there are times in my walk with God where that idea holds me to a standard of righteousness that I cannot meet. It's one of those things the enemy uses to cause me to believe myself unworthy and unusable. That's where he's got it wrong. My lack of humanly discipline does not determine God's love for me nor is it an indicator of my ability to show Jesus in my day to day life.

What I'm getting at is something I've been struggling with recently. When I don't feel like I'm making the time that I need to spend time with God I assume my life isn't "where it ought to be" and as a result nobody around me sees Him in me. The reality is He doesn't come and go. I took on His spirit when I chose to follow. His presence is near and people can see Him, whether I am reading the Bible everyday or not. I think I make God little when I try to believe that He needs me in order to touch the lives of those around me.

Pastor Jeff said something crucial on Sunday that reiterated this point for me-- when people are brought into the presence of God they are blessed and changed. "We invite people readily to what we are captivated by."

What that tells me is that if I'm living with a heart that loves Jesus--captivated and in pursuit of knowing Him-- people will feel that. They won't care whether or not I've been to church every Sunday, or if I have at least 5 scriptures memorized, but will be more curious to know what I know. 

When I committed my life to knowing Jesus 6 years ago, I realized that spiritual tasks weren't requirements; instead they became desires. I figured out that salvation isn't a one time thing, it's something that I will continue to work out with God for the rest of my life. I learned that being a Christian isn't about how good I can be but how much I recognize and receive God's goodness. 

I am not good. But in me there is greatness, His name is Jesus. //

July 9, 2013

7.1 // I am afraid.

//Confession: I am afraid.

Bugs, scary movies, creepy sounds, loud noises, and car accidents: they get me every time. They leave my heart pounding, hands shaking, and mind racing. 

What is it about fear that gets the best of me? Why is it that like a snake, it seems to slowly squeeze my esophagus, leaving me feeling completely powerless?

Fear sort of reminds me of a maze, with each dead end anxiety builds until I'm in a full blown panic, unable to concentrate, not only on where I should be going but where I just was. It blurs the vision, fogs the mind, and creates this false sense of hopelessness. The reality however is that there is in fact an exit. The maze isn't
just sending me in circles; I am sending me in circles.

Fear is a vital response to danger, if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. When looking up psychological reasoning for fear, I read, "a perceived threat causes one to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide." That's the problem with perception vs. reality, the threat of 'what if's' and 'might be's' become reality.

It is the deception that I see and understand all things. Fear causes me to pull away from people for fear they "might" fail, hurt, or deceive me. It pushes me to hide from opportunities, dreams, and possibility because there is risk of inadequacy. It reveals so much about my heart when I find myself running from that which isn't actually there. 

Talk about a false prophets, fear predicts things that may not—and most likely will not—come to pass. If I stand in front of these false realities believing my fears to be predictors of my future, I essentially am saying, "God is not for me. He is not going to help me. God doesn't know what I need. He won't provide."

In thinking about being afraid, I couldn't help but think of the command in the Bible, "Fear Not" which occurs close to 150 times. In these statements God is not just commanding the release of fear but often follows with comfort and hope saying things like "I am with you", "I am the one who helps you", "I am with you to deliver you", "I will fight for you".

What reason do I have to hide or pull back with promises like that? Unlike a spider on the wall in front of me, facing my fears only means turning from the frustrating walls of wondering and seeking the path God has for me. This maze of life is tough sometimes but I cannot let fear leave me feeling lost.

Unlike a mouse in a maze I know the only way out is to seek what  the direction of the only One who knows the way. 

June 24, 2013

6.3 // Good ole days

//Confession: I miss the good ole days

You'd think at 27 it wouldn't be possible to have homesickness. I do. There's something about this month that has made me miss my family more than ever. Being a Virginia transplant hasn't been very difficult until these last few weeks. Work is in a summer lull, life hasn't been all that easy, and my heart has just felt off... the culmination of that and a few other family things has made me wish I could wake up in my house. I want to walk down the stairs to the smell of coffee and sit across from daddy on the couch while he reads. I  would like to relax in the sunshine with my mom, walk around target, and get pizza gallery together. I would love to watch wheel of fortune and jeopardy next to grandma and do her nails for her. I wish I could walk on the beach and get breakfast with Diana. I miss laughing and dance parties with my nieces and nephews. I miss home. 

In one of the final Office episodes, Andy says "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good ole days before you leave them". There has been so many times in my life where I have been in those and just forgot to live in them--to really live in them, to be joyful and thankful for them. Instead, I have spent time trying to get to the next place. Looking to just keep going.

In spite of my current  homesickness, I haven't let that keep me from living. I've come to realize that it's okay to remember the good ole days, to wish for simplicity in the midst of chaos, to see change as challenging, but I refuse to spend my time wanting out of these days. Or waiting for the next best thing... because the next best thing is today. It's in these moments...just enjoy these moments.

On that note here's life lately:

I have spent many weekends at the Roanoke River. This spot is about 10 minutes from where I live. It may not offer sandy shores, or waves but it's a different kind of peaceful.

Grady likes the river too.

My herb garden has gone crazy. This is just before a second trimming. I have made pizza, pasta, and salads with the my homegrown mint, oregano, and basil. I have also enjoyed a fresh mojito with my mint.
There is something about froyo on a hard day that sort of just makes things better. A beautiful sunset is nice too.

I am currently obsessed with my mason jars. I prep food for the week in them doing overnight oats, parfaits or my favorite, cole slaw. This one was broccoli slaw with pepitas and sprouts. I do a homemade vinaigrette dressing on the bottom, when ready, just shake and eat. 

I'm obsessed with pass the pigs. It's sort of like a dice game, but with pigs. I can't get enough, and it fits in my purse. 

Trail running. Instead of going to the stuffy gym, I get to be back in nature running before work. It's fantastic. This morning I ran passed a group of wild horses.

Chase and I found a new breakfast spot in Salem that has buckwheat pancakes. If you know anything about me, you know I can't have wheat or gluten HOWEVER I can eat buckwheat. And breakfast being my absolute favorite, I was gitty with excitement. There's something irresistible about diners to me, a nostalgia that cannot be surpassed.  

Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.
Accept the way God does things,
    for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
enjoy prosperity while you can,
    but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.
    Remember that nothing is certain in this life.
- -Eccleciastes 7:10, 13&14

There are days when I just want to go back to the "good ole days"... but then I realize these are those days. Living in this moment is the only certainty we can depend on; live with joy. 

Remember to cherish today.//


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