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.//


Linking up with:

Wild & Precious for life lately  &

lowercase letters

June 20, 2013

6.2 // Sometimes I forget to breathe

//Confession: Sometimes I forget to breathe.

Without even knowing it I prayed myself into a coma. It's this feeling of not consciously spending time with God. My prayers feel muffled. It's like I'm lying there trying to wake up, trying to speak up, but its all in my head... Like no one can hear me.

It's an unfulfilling way to spend my time with God. I want Him to hear me, I want to be able to open my eyes and see His face. But instead I am lying there in the dark, with thoughts cycling in my head. And like trying to hold a conversation with a coma patient, it feels one sided and sad. 

The frustration built in my heart and it lead to a couple days of pure sadness. This overwhelming feeling that I am alone, and no one, and certainly no God, is even listening. I felt stuck in this state of stagnancy unable to get up, be heard, or move forward.

Thankfully, God has placed unbelievably amazing people in my life who encourage me and remind me of truth. As I shared my concern about my inability to feel conscious, my best friend said something very profound: "I don't want to tell you not to pray, but maybe you just need to take a deep breathe. You are in His presence without talking to Him, He hears your every thought." 

In that very moment, I closed my eyes and before my exhale was finished, I felt a grip tighten on my hand. He is in this very room. Holding my hand, He sat next to me telling me how much I mean to Him.
God is better than any doctor or family member because even in my coma-like unconsciousness, He hears my every mumble, my every overwhelming worry, my every overanalyzed thought. 

When life pushes me to my emotional limit its easy to slip into a coma. To cope and lose hope and check out. All to easy to feel like I can't seem to wake up and get out of my own head. To sink into a place that leaves me feeling blind and lonely. 

"Wake up oh sleeper. Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." -Ephesians 5:14 
Prayer isn't always about being heard, sometimes it's just remembering the preciousness of God's presence.//

June 14, 2013

6.1 // Occasionally I fall off the planet

//Confession: Occasionally I fall off the planet

Maybe not in literal terms but in the writing world. Writer's block has a tendency to overwhelm me. And sometimes confessing my ups, downs, good, and bad just makes me feel exposed. Insecurity can creep in without an invitation.

I think as life moves forward, lives change, people change, and as this whirlwind happens around me, it's easy to get caught up in the feeling that I am the only one standing still. That everyone else is getting somewhere but not me. Though the thought isn't valid--everyday is an opportunity for growth if we allow it--it still can be difficult to avoid feelings of inadequacy.

Comparison kills joy.

When I find myself looking around me, noticing all the of the good going on in others lives, I lose sight of the greatness in mine. I lose that feeling of gratitude and sink into feelings of self-loathing. All that does is turn me into a hermit and causes me to question everything. That's the thing about giving into feelings of insecurity... it is a slippery slope straight into doubt.

I doubt that I am a good writer.
I doubt that people care about me.
I doubt that I am loved.
I doubt that I am good enough.
I doubt that I have worth.
I doubt that I am going to have success in my life.
I doubt that God is good.
I doubt that I am beautiful inside or out.
I doubt myself.

I can't say I'm alone. If you read the gospels, many Biblical friends had the same problem I do. Doubt arose in their hearts, pushing them into reality checks before they regained faith; Peter began to sink into the sea, Thomas put his hand in Jesus' wounds, Mary & Martha's brother died.

There's something about things being unstable in my life that cause me to be unstable in my thoughts. Rather than remembering the promises of God, and the solid ground He offers, I choose to wobble in doubt or to run away in fear.

James 1:5-8 says, "If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who 'worry their prayers' are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."

That's what doubt does, it just keeps the mind open to all of these false ideas about life, yourself, and others. It redefines and twists truth. It makes security disappear, turning me into a worryful, self-reliant, doubting, lost heart. After each doubtful time in my and those Biblical friend's lives, Jesus always restores faith and hope. He never just lets me keep getting whipped around in my whirlwind of doubt.. he calms the storm and reminds me of how much He cares for me.

If only you would prepare your heart
and lift up your hands to him in prayer!
Get rid of your sins,
and leave all iniquity behind you.
Then your face will brighten with innocence.
You will be strong and free of fear.
You will forget your misery;
it will be like water flowing away.
Your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Even darkness will be as bright as morning.
Having hope will give you courage.
You will be protected and will rest in safety."
-Job 11:13-18

I'm back. Hopeful. Courageous. Safe. //

May 11, 2013

5.1 // I am poor

// Confession: I am poor.

I think I'm finally ready to talk about it. I've been putting it off for some time now, as I do when I want to avoid the things that challenge.

I am an Americorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America). VISTA provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year.

I work for an amazing nonprofit, The Advancement Foundation, coordinating PR, marketing, and events.  I love my job, and I am learning so much. But it's more than expanding a resume. As a VISTA, I have signed up to live at the poverty level of the community I am serving. I gave up more than just money too; I left behind my family, friends, and my community, not to mention jumping up a few states. Having been here 6 months, it has started to take its toll.

Work has always been a part of my life, the 40+ hours a week isn't the issue. I have never had a lot of money, but I have always worked hard to live comfortably. 

Until now. This is not comfortable. It's more like wearing fleece pajamas at the beach, or having the chicken pox without calamine lotion. Being poor is hard.

There are so many politically charged debates about poverty and so many misguided views. I can say with confidence after becoming friends with so many struggling to make it--and as someone who is struggling herself, that you have no idea until you live it.  As I find myself praying for miracles financially, I really understand the difficulties that come with this life.

The highs of triumph are so quickly overshadowed by the lows of your phone getting shut off and the late fees that come with your partially paid bills. There is little joy in those lows--it's a feeling so hopeless it makes you want to give up and run away from it all. I get it now. Living it opens your eyes to how hard it actually is.

These days I spend most of my time on my knees, not asking for God to make this any easier but for Him to give me the strength to endure it and the wisdom to learn from it.

This experience has gifted me with so much already. The job experience is great, but nothing compares to what this journey is doing for my heart. I am humbled. I am seeing more of who I am without all of the worldly fluff to keep me happy and it's not pretty. I am so wrong about so many thing. My faith is challenged daily.

I am being stripped of everything. And yet in having nothing, I feel as though God is giving me everything (2 Cor 6). He continues to love and bless me despite my lack of belief, my fear, anger or discontentment. He is faithful. As my beautiful roommate prayed today, it isn't a characteristic of is who He is.

A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. - 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (MSG)

I don't want money. Jesus, You are enough.// 

April 19, 2013

4.7 // I can't solve the world's problems

//Confession: I can't solve the world's problems

In the wake of this week's tragedies--a bombing in Boston and an explosion in West, Texas--with so many innocent lives lost, it's tough to even sit down and write anything at all. I mean what can I say or do to encourage the victim's families or help the wounded survivors. I put off posting yesterday because I wasn't sure that anything I have to offer will make any difference at all.

Instead yesterday I prayed for my country, these hurting families, and the hearts of those watching from their living rooms. I cannot ignore or move forward pretending we aren't changed by these events. I cannot pretend I understand them.. I cannot say my prayers don't include questions. There are places in my heart that want to know why God doesn't stop this kind of thing. Despite those feelings I have to continue to trust that He is faithful and that He is good.

On Sunday, Diana talked about helping others and I can so relate to the feelings of wanting to fix everyone's problems and help those in need. Sometimes, so much so that I takeover and try to make things happen or resolve situations for others without even consulting God. I loved Diana's thoughts on the one; that even though we cannot rescue the innocent from harm, or give the lonely a home, or feed all the grumbling stomach's around us: we can help one. We can use our lives and do our best to touch and love the unloved, the hurting, and rejected.

When it comes to the people on the side of the road looking for some relief, I cannot offer money. In the city you can walk by ten homeless people easily, it would be financially impossible to offer all of them help. Instead, I like to make "manna bags" for those homeless I may pass in my car or on the street. Most of the toiletry items are from the dollar store, sold in packs of 3-5 or bought in bulk from Wal-mart. To me this is an affordable and practical means of offering love and help.

Manna Bags

Contents: water, sunblock, toothpaste, toothbrush, peanuts, cookies, crackers, wet wipes, soap

Contents: water, granola bar, wet wipes, tissues, swabs, crackers, soap, comb, lotion, sunblock

These of course are just example of some of the items I include but they are open to your personal interpretation. I also like to put verses of encouragement (click here for a printable version of five passages I include in my bags). Something hand written is also great to put in there.

For me, this is more than a "hand out", it is instead a way to make someone feel valued and thought about. Many of the people I work with that have been homeless have told me they feel dehumanized and shunned by the community they live in. No person deserves to feel invaluable. It takes little time for me to put these together but I believe and pray that the impact is greater than I know.

Maybe solving some of the world's problems begins with simple kindnesses, and genuine love for those we don't even know.// 

April 16, 2013

4.6 // I love Spring things [2]

// Confession: I love Spring things [2]

Season have always been a fascination of mine, which is sort of ironic considering I have lived in Florida my entire life, where season do not exist. Maybe that's the reason for my current infatuation with all things Spring. Six months of cold could also be a contributing factor.

This weeks favorites:

Flowering trees

Instead of green, I look up and see whites and pinks. It’s a lovely thing.

Longer days

Sun rises on my way to the gym, and stays up long enough for me to watch it set on walks with my pup at night. I love that.


I am no green thumb but during the temperature change and budding of new life around me, it’s difficult to not want to watch something grow.

Vitamin D

Yep, a bit of reading in the sunshine is just what the doctor order for me. I may not have a sandy beach anymore but the sun is enough to warm my heart and remind me of home.

What are your favorite things about Spring? I want to hear about them. Link up or comment to be eligible to win a Love Me Accessory or Scarf in the Spring giveaway!

Link Up

April 14, 2013

4.5 // I wish I could save the world [guest post]

Guest post by Diana Humphries

\\ Confession: I wish I could save the world.

Most of the time my head can't keep up with my heart's ideas. I wish I could be a super hero mixed with Peter Pan and a sprinkle of Princess dust. I want to save the world, feed the poor, and look pretty doing it.
I just want to make a difference in any and every way I can. I don't want to get to The Gates upstairs and have God ask me why I didn't help the people He placed around me. 

God has given me a heart for many things, especially the homeless.  When it comes to those in need of food and shelter I cannot help but wish I could magically solve their problems.

I'm realizing more and more that sometimes it's not about the 99 sheep but the 1 lost one. There's always debate about giving food or money to the people standing on street corners with signs that say "homeless please help". My heart breaks when I make eye contact and see the hurt in these individuals faces. 

Recently, I noticed a man in an old white van every day at the beach across the street from my house. After seeing him several days in a row I figured out that he lives in the van with his dog. He looks as though he hasn't showered in weeks, let alone been fed a good meal. I am beyond blessed to say that I honestly don't know what that feels like.  

This past Easter, my fiancé and I went for a walk on the beach in between our two family dinners--where we had way too much food--and saw him again. We decided to go back and make an "Easter Basket" for him. We filled it with muffins, ham, candy, water, drinks, dog treats (of course), and a few other goodies.
Dropping it off was the best part. He was tearful in his thank you. The smile he gave was unforgettable. Needless to say I've gone back a few times now with more homemade meals. 

I don't have a lot of money, not by a long stretch. Most of the time I'm barely making my bills. But I do trust that Jesus is ALWAYS faithful and ALWAYS good.  He has provided in ways I never thought possible, which in turn gives me opportunities to bless others in His name. I know that I cannot feed all the hungry people in this world but maybe for now it's just about this one. If Jesus went after one lost sheep, maybe that's what he wants me to do too. I guess that's the result of the prayer I've been praying the last couple years..."Jesus, break my heart for what breaks yours". 

I may not be able to save the world but I know a Man who came to die, and He did just that.//

Special thanks to my beautiful best friend and God-given sister, Diana, for sharing her heart. I am blessed to have a friend who loves, challenges, and encourages me daily--even from a distance.
Don't forget to link up or comment this Tuesday with Spring Things to be eligible for the giveaway, and come back for simple ways you can serve others on Thursday. Have a blessed week my friends! 

April 12, 2013

4.4// If I could make a living off of this I would [+Spring giveaway info]

// Confession: If I could make a living off of this I would

Some of you may know that since 2009 I had my own small business called Love Me Accessories, (which transitioned to Love Me Threads over the last year). Due to my contract as an Americorps VISTA, I have vowed to live in poverty for a year. With that, my little Etsy shop has been closed and my jewelry, scarves and fun creations are on hold.

Right before I closed up shop I got the joy of doing my first bridal party. It was so much fun working with Mychael. After a few emails and some ideas of what she was looking for I created two samples for her. The cluster style necklace she chose was stunning. Along with the bridal necklace, she wanted eight more small versions of the necklace for her bridesmaids as a surprise for them. They came out so beautifully and the bridal party was stunning so I had to share some of the photos from the fairy tale day. These gorgeous photos are by Tara Sproc.

Photo cred for all photos below: Tara Sproc

In my last blog I talked about having a spring giveaway in April and May. The giveaway will include a piece of jewelry and summer scarf by Love Me. All you have to do to be eligible for the giveaway is comment on a Spring Things blog with what you love about spring or Link up. I will choose one blogger who links up and one commenting friend! Want to see more of my goodies? Click here. 

I'm in no rush. Though I miss my little business some days, I'm okay with taking time to learn, grow and do other things. Who knows what the future holds, but I'm just fine with where God has me right now.

Wherever you are in life, be all there.//

April 9, 2013

4.3 // I love Spring things

//Confession: I love spring things.

Maybe it’s just me but I can’t help but love spring time. Warmer weather has makes me all kinds of happy.  Here are a few of my current irresistible spring pleasures.

White Shoes

I don’t care what kind... and I know they get dirty. I still love them.

My Porch Swing

Even if I still occasionally need a blanket. I love swinging in the breeze, chatting with God, and sipping on tea. 

Spring Cleaning

Yep, I’m that girl. It’s therapeutic packing up my winter clothes, organizing, and unpacking the spring/ summer goodies. I also enjoy cleaning my other house, with a juice cleanse. Fresh start; mind, body, & soul!


They make me want to play, I think it’s a childhood thing, I don’t know but I love them. 

What are your favorite things about Spring? I am hoping to get some of my blogging friends to join me in a little link up in months of April & May, posting your favorite spring things. Maybe it’s just one thing that caught your attention, or lots of things you can’t get enough of; I want to hear about them.

For my non-blogging friends, comment below! Share with friends, or grab a button and link up. {Any participants will be up for a special spring gift giveaway, more on that later this week}.

Link Up

Spring makes me feel generous ;) //

April 4, 2013

4.2 // I deserved the ticket

//Confession: I deserved the ticket.

In the darkness of the night, Taylor Swift blasting, I sang along belting out as if I was singing at the Grammy’s.“Cuz I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now.  Flew me to places i'd never been... trouble! Trouble! Troubllllllllle!”  I approached the highway, and glanced in my rear view. And I saw them. Those lights you never want to see, blue and red, drawing closer to my rear.

Trouble. Crap. I’m in trouble.

I was speeding, I was sure of it (though not on purpose). I hadn’t been paying attention, which usually means I’m speeding. (Thanks for the lead foot dad.) I immediately regretted my nonchalant disregard for the obvious: a speed limit. My normal response would be tears. But this was one of those circumstances where I knew I was getting a ticket. This wasn’t going to be good.

The officer asked me, "do you know the speed limit on this road?"
My response: I’m gonna guess about 35?
His reply: Yes ma’am. You were going about 55.
My response: Wow, really? That’s unfortunate. I’m very sorry about that.
His reply: Yes ma’am, it is unfortunate, especially since we are doing speed enforcement this evening.

Everything he said indicated I was getting a ticket, and I knew it was deserved. I wasn’t going to try and fight it. I was going 20 miles over the speed limit at midnight; common sense tells me that’s breaking the law.

He came back, asked me for my current address and filled out what I assumed was the ticket. Then something very unexpected happened. The officer looked me in the eyes and said, “I am not going to give you a ticket this evening. You have a long drive home, just drive safe ma’am.”
I sort of stared at him for a second in shock. “Seriously? .... You just blessed me so much.” He laughed at me and nodded his head.

I drove away thanking God, but wondering what the heck just happened. I was in awe of how nice he was.  I tried to justify my actions, thinking, well I mean I really didn’t mean to speed. Regardless, I knew what I deserved.

When I really thought about it, it was grace at it's finest. Did I mention this was on Easter? That’s what really got me, it’s the perfect example of the cross. There are times in walking with God when my intention isn’t to sin but I find myself in a situation doing just that; going directly against what I know God desires for me. I know when I’m in the wrong.  But just like that officer, the cross gives me the second chance I don’t deserve.  Jesus walks up to me, looks me in the eyes and says I forgive you; you are free. Time and time and time again. The cross offers me unconditional grace. No tickets, no fees, no insurance increases. When my sinful nature takes over, I deserve punishment. The beauty of the cross is that if my heart is repentant, sin doesn’t win; grace wins. Everytime. Grace offers me an undeserved fresh start. It never ceases to amaze me.

 I saw grace in my rear view mirror.//

April 1, 2013

4.1 // It's possible to delight in depravity

// Confession: It's possible to delight in depravity.

Well, lent is over. 40 days later it's easy to sort of feel like, 'now what?' The reality is that I will go back to the things I gave up. So, the question becomes, what do I walk away from lent with? I don't want to just pat myself on the back and say congrats.

In my reflection I have realized a few things. The first is that "depravity" isn't all that bad, in fact I can honestly say I have been happier and more joyful in the last 40 days than I have been in a very long time. Without even being conscious of it I found myself laughing more, enjoying the little things, and overall having a more positive attitude. I wouldn't have guessed that joy would be a side effect of sacrifice.

That brings me to the second thing I realized, that when I willingly surrender things in my life I experience what it means to love God. I am called to serve God of course, but I am first called to love him. Any human relationship I experience requires compromise, sacrifice, and investment. The same goes for my relationship with God; lent for me was more than just a feeling of "duty", it was an act of love.

Loving someone, including God, shouldn't be a task on the to do list, or a feeling of obligation. It should bring me just as much happiness as laughing over Skype with my mom and dad, a date with Chase, or breakfast with my best friend. I love those people, I would do anything for them. That's what lent was for me, simply loving God. Depravity didn't make my life miserable; it made me happy. It was like sitting across from Jesus and just enjoying him. No obligations or expectations, just me and Him, being friends.

"We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with" //Jim Rohn

When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced. Relationships with people affect ways of thinking, self-esteem, and decision making. Being intentional about my relationship with God is so important. He can help me grow and hold me accountable, and press me towards stronger faith.

I walk away from lent with the realization that I want to just be in love with God. I don't want to feel like He is constantly looking for me to 'get better' but that He just wants to enjoy time together; to be my friend. I want my relationship with God to be based on delight not duty. I want to love Him like I do the people in my life, with an appreciation for who they are, and an excitement to know them better--not out of obligation but desire.

I want Jesus to be one of my 5 people.//

March 28, 2013

3.5 // Sometimes I surprise myself

// Confession: Sometimes I surprise myself

Every once in a while I get a craving for something sort of out of the ordinary. Recently, the haunting came from the desire for a crab cake. Having a wheat/gluten intolerance sort of eliminates an enormous catagory of  food from my life; one which largely encompasses anything delicious. Crab cakes are out of the picture for two reasons, 1. I can't have bread crumbs 2. I hate mayonnaise.

So I scoured the internet for gluten free recipes determined to fulfill this craving with little luck. If it was gluten free, it had mayo and if it had no mayo it had bread crumbs or other unappealing fillers. I decided to 'wing it' after getting an idea of how to make them from the recipes I read. Based on my previous cooking ideas this was not a route that guaranteed success, however I went for it anyway. The result was not a failure though, in fact they were pretty darn amazing if I do say so myself. Give my healthier version of crabcakes a try, see what ya think, they might surprise you.

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

1/4 c Celery
1/4 c Onion
3/4 c Rice Crispy Cereal
2 tbsp brown rice flour

1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cayenne
1/4 parsley

1 egg
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp almond or coconut milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 oz. Crab meat.
1/4 cup shredded cheese
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (for frying)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In another bowl beat egg, oil, mustard, and milk until mixed well. Combine ingredients, adding crab and cheese. Shape into three patties; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat about 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (any kind of oil it fine) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the crab cakes until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Mine may have not looked perfect but they tasted delicious. It was such a treat to be able to enjoy something I normally would have to skip out on, plus there was a bit of extra satisfaction in 'winging' a surprisingly successful recipe. 

Download this recipe in a printable version here

Gluten free never tasted so good. //

March 24, 2013

3.4 // I have been deceived

//Confession: I have been deceived

I couldn't help but feel it. I felt dry. I feel stagnant and stuck, not growing with God but not going backwards either. I'm just dead. 

I had been thinking this for weeks trying to pray my way out of it. No signs of life, or so I thought. After a night of rest, I hit the road to Blacksburg as I do sometimes for a day away. The drive is lovely; I have always really enjoyed it. This morning I noticed it was quiet. I hadn't turned the radio on, and as I rounded the corner I noted how lovely the mountains and hills are, even covered with barren trees. How can I still find them beautiful? I thought to myself, as I studied there leafless branches and seemingly black trunks. 

In that moment it hit me. They only look dead, they may even feel dead but they are very much alive. A forest filled with life, roots thriving deep below the soils surface.  

That's the thing in Christianity we don't often talk about. If you're a new believer, you are growing leaps and bounds, learning and soaking up all that you can. But as you come to walk with Jesus there are times when He doesn't feel far away, but you're not sure He's all that close either. It's a place that feels stagnant, like a tree in the winter. Not dead, but not growing. My heart, like a tree in the winter, is seeking the warmth of the sun. It is dry and in need of fresh rain, waiting for the season to change. The wait is when vulnerability is at its peak. Like winter trees, I am susceptible to freezing rain and snow. And just as snow packs onto branches, the weight of the enemy's lies become heavy enough to break you.

 'God doesn't hear you, he doesn't love you... you are a wanderer, you don't even know God. you still sin all the time. you aren't living for God, what does that even mean to you.. look at you dead in your sinfulness...' the enemy's voice hisses lies. I am deceived by an enemy who wants me dead. 

I am not dead. I am deceived.

Deceit is meant to keep me frozen in fear; blind me from the blessings. Lies are meant to bind me and keep me from thanking my God, who is near.  It hopes to keep me from praising the One who even in a season of struggle or stillness has purpose for my life and hope for my future. 

"I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." -Colossians 2:4-7

So here I sit, facing the reality that my heart may be experiencing a bit of a winter storm. But spring isn't far off and I cannot be silent. If I am alive and all I can do is praise Him--knowing He is faithful--I am fulfilling a destiny of being rooted in Jesus and trusting God. 

I am alive.//