Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Encouraging!

This came in a devotional I receive through email -

"[David's] life was a life of extreme highs and extreme lows. He was a shepherd, a political leader, a builder, a prophet, a businessman, a warrior, a lover, a giver, a murderer and a worshiper."

Now that should make all of us feel better about our failures!

Monday, December 15, 2008

a lot to handle

God has taught me so much lately. Sometimes it seems like almost TOO much to handle. My prayer is that I will never get in the way of what God wants to do in me.

I wonder now how I made it through high school & college without feeling as overwhelmed as I do now by what God wants me to look like, compared to what I do look like. He wants to do all these things in me, He wants me to look like Jesus, but I am so far from it! Every day I am reminded of how far I am from the standard He desires for me (to be holy as He is holy, righteous, blameless, pure...). But my heart wants it! So I battle every day, the part of me that wants to be holy against the part of me that is SO not. (Romans 7 comes to mind...)

God taught me recently two things regarding this. First of all, I cannot make myself righteous. I can try as hard as I can to obey all the rules, to do everything right, & can even try to keep my thoughts pleasing to God, but I will fail. Because I am human. But, instead of beating myself up over it like I am inclined to do, God wants me to repent, & get back up & keep going! I treat my holiness like a personal victory I am attempting, instead of letting God change me - that's the job of the Holy Spirit, I can't do it on my own!

Someone recently put it like this - when a parent is watching their child learn how to walk, they clap & encourage, & when their child falls down, they don't scold them for failing, they pick them up & hug them & tell them to try again. Of course! When we are covered by the blood of Jesus, we are made righteous THROUGH Him (not through our own efforts), & when our hearts desire to follow God & obey Him, God does not scold us when we fall - He is our loving Father!

Second, I have learned that in this Spirit vs. flesh (which seems to most often include my moods, reactions, inclinations, etc.) battle, I make the choice in every moment to follow either what I "humanly" want to do, or what God wants me to do. I think before recently, I just lived my life, & whatever popped out (either fruits of the Spirit or evidence of the flesh) was what it was. As if I couldn't help it! But I have to make a choice, & the product of that choice will either be the fruit of the Spirit, or not. It sounds so simple. It's so not, apparently! It's hard not to let my actions reflect my mood, or to keep that mean thought from running rampant in my mind. But if I STOP - & check the condition of my heart, my mind - then turn it back to Jesus - my actions will "pop out" as fruit of the Spirit.

Of course these things have proven to be harder lived out than learned. But I'm thankful that even though I seem to mess up over & over again - I wouldn't give myself a second chance! But God does. His mercy is great!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need to know what you think...

At book club I was told that I look like a lot like the newest Nancy Drew actress, Emma Roberts.

I don't really see it.

So, I want to know what you think. Google her then comment & let me know!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's in my head

Our cat Toby will NOT stay out of the Christmas Tree. It's very frustrating! We find ornaments on the floor almost every day, & today he was crawling IN the tree, on the branches, & I had to yank him out. Aaaggghhh.

We have real live mistletoe hanging in the entry to the living room. You should come over with your special someone. :-)

I bought the most adorable pink & green necklace last night. My fave color combo!!

So, you know, it's the holidays, & everyone eats a lot during the holidays (the Today show said that the average American gains between 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving & Christmas!). I am trying to get rid of the 3-5 extra pounds hanging on since the wedding (I got rid of about 8 other ones that came on after the wedding; the last few are the hardest you know), especially right now because if I didn't try to be good, I would just eat & gain those billions of holiday pounds. This is all to say, my diet has consisted of snacking thoughout day on cereal, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter filled pretzels, apples, corn cakes (like rice cakes, but taste more like popcorn), slices of turkey sandwich meat, & granola bars. I only eat when I know I'm hungry (not just bored), & drink lots of water. & I eat peanut m&ms to get that chocolate fix. Yum. Then dinner as usual. & of course I work out 4 times a week, 50 minutes of cardio each day & then some weights. We'll see if I actually lose weight! :-)

Oh, I also learned on the Today show that a cup of egg nog has the same amount of calories as a Quarter Pounder.

It's cold outside.

I am going to try to get more painting done in the bathroom on Friday.... it's so not fun being in that room, with no ventilation, painting all the little crevices. Poo! (No pun intended.)

Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla Coffee smells really good.

My favorite animals are cows & squirrels. We have had lots of squirrels in the backyard the past couple of months. Sage loves to chase them. No cows though.

I'm going to go wrap a Christmas present now... then clean the bathroom... & you all know how I feel about THAT!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Meaning of Christmas

The meaning of Christmas can be found in some of the songs that people sing each year. If only they realized what they were singing, if only they found it true! Read through these lyrics... they really are Christmas songs that speak salvation, & I love the words, the truth & beauty they speak. THIS is the meaning of Christmas. Not family, not presents, not children, not happiness or memories. Those things are good but... JESUS is the meaning of Christmas. His coming saved us who choose Him; THAT is what we celebrate each year.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

I really love this one....

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Marriage Conference

Two weekends ago, Josh & I went to a marriage conference here in San Antonio, at the Hill Country Hyatt, called "Weekend to Remember." We are so glad we did, & plan on going back every couple of years. The three-day conference discussed things like communication, conflict resolution, roles of husbands & wives, etc. I know it sounds like some kind of book you could read... so why go to a conference? They have projects that you do based on a couple of the topics, & throughout each session there are questions that force you to make it personal - Josh & I became aware of things that we weren't before, & now we can focus on them (like remembering who our enemy is - not each other! & how to communicate about differing opinions without anger). Saturday evening is a date night, so you get to talk about the things you've been learning, & enjoy spending time together. We really enjoyed it, & learned a lot. Our marriage has already benefitted from it. As the pastor I work for said, "Of all the ways to invest your time & money, this is worth it."

(Oh ya... Friday night of the conference, we quickly had to make sure our attitude was not one of, "Wow I hope my husband is hearing this!" or "Gosh if my wife would get that down that would be GREAT!" No elbowing allowed!)

At the end of the conference, we heard a few testimonies of some of the people there (there were 1000 people in attendance) - they all said something they had learned, or how their marriage had changed. One woman said that she had filed for divorce the week before the conference, & throughout Friday & Saturday at the Conference, she still wanted a divorce, but Sunday morning, she realized there was hope for her marriage, so she was going to rip up the divorce papers. People & their marriages are transformed at this conference.

That's why it's worth it to us to go back every couple years - jobs, friends, church, eventually kids make life busy & it's so easy to get distracted from your marriage, & all of a sudden issues pop up, bitterness is harbored, intimacy is gone. We don't want that. We want to do everything we can to keep our marriage based on Jesus, & to love each other more than ourselves. It's much easier said than done.

We encourage you married couples to go to the conference as well. You can go to http://www.familylife.com/ & check out the dates, cities, & schedule of the conferences. You can go to one in a city near you, or you can go to a "destination" conference & really go all out! Next time we go to one, I'll let you all know - you can sign up under a group coordinator (which I was this year) & pay less for the conference.

Whether you're having some issues, or you have a great marriage & want to keep it that way, I can guarantee you will benefit from it!

No I was not paid to write this... we just believe in it that much. :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To sign a petition against the Freedom of Choice Act.....

http://www.fightfoca.com/

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore


This book is amazing. You need to read it. That's really all I need to say, but just for grins I'll do the usual.

The plot: This book is a true story about a very wealthy art dealer (Ron), his wife, & a black homeless man (Denver). Most of the story takes place in Fort Worth (they still live there; I would love to meet them). Ron's wife, Debbie, starts working with the homeless, so Ron goes with her out of obligation, but ends up becoming best friends with Denver. The story is about their lives & how God works through them (in some really cool ways).

What we talked about in book club: Everyone there loved the book. We talked about our views/convictions about the homeless (we should all be like Debbie), our favorite parts of the book, & we went over some critiques found online. One critic didn't believe some of the things in the book happened, or didn't believe they were of the Lord (when you read the book you will probably know what I am talking about), but it's so easy to get stuck in our "American" view of Christianity... spiritual warfare exists, & even though here in America we are so distracted by materialism & our own reputation that we don't see the spiritual side of this world (the world that is Satan's playground), it is real. There were even some similar experiences shared by people at book club.

Recommendation: You probably realize by now... I completely recommend the book, 100%. It is funny, sad, convicting, & encouraging.

I would love to hear your thoughts after you read it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Those little green guys are in my face

I have a sinus infection. Poooooo.

How did I know, you ask? Well half my face hurt. The left side of my throat hurt, my left eye, ear, eyebrow, scalp hurt. Oh & the gums on the left side of my mouth were swollen. It's so bizarre. Apparently I have very impressive post-nasal drip.

I have also become a fan of Mucinex. The Walgreens version of course.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, & remember when I got sick my senior year & put up a picture of an infected throat, you should be glad I am not putting up a lovely mucus visual. :-)

Oh yes, there is a new book review coming soon. You're going to need to read this book, I don't care who you are! It will come most likely next week.

I'm going to go continue to let my mucus drain!

tmi??

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Just ONE more thing...

It's hard being an opinionated person but trying to let my words be encouraging & glorifying to the Lord. However that is more important than letting my opinion be known. I also desire unity rather than dissention (Rom. 14:19, Col. 3:14).

I want to challenge people... those of you that love the Lord but did not have your candidate win the election... do not speak ill of our new president (Eph. 4:29-30). As people who love the Lord & desire to do what He asks, we must not bash Obama, or complain about him (same as for Bush, Clinton, etc), but only pray for him & respect the authority he has over us (Romans 13). Whether you agree with his policies & what he stands for or not, we are called to treat him with respect. As long as he does not call us to do anything that goes against the commands of our God, we must obey him.

Do not shame God's name by claiming to be a Christian then talking badly about our president (2 Corin. 5:9-10, Col. 3:12, 1 Peter 1:15-16).

"Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now, salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." Romans 13:10-11

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday

I have a document on my computer named "Tuesday" (because the day I wrote it was Tuesday so it saved like that). I always keep this document up because it is my constant to-do list. I add things I need to do later in the week, or next week, most things under a specific day, then as I do them I take them off the list. Some things are vague, that have no immediate deadline, so I'll put those at the bottom under no specific day.

(I love lists. I love checking things off, & I rarely forget something I need to do.)

However, for whatever reason, I have not felt like being productive. I haven't want to do work-related things, or things around the house. I want to sleep & sit outside & drink Starbucks & that's about it.

So today, as I look at my list... there is a certain item I am avoiding... it was under yesterday's list, & it didn't get done, so it's just sitting there... waiting... so I look at my list to see anything, ANYTHING else I can do on it besides that one item... so I'm printing things, writing emails, doing things on the bottom of the list, the non-day items, oh & BLOGGING, all to avoid.........

"clean the bathrooms"

nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mmm, puh-kin innards!

Meet Ralph! He is our first annual jack-o-lantern. He's a happy fella. We used his innards & made yummy, spicy roasted pumpkin seeds. Sage helped us carve him in the front yard, & it turns out she loves pumpkin, we could hardly keep her away from it (but we did let her have a couple pieces).

This past Saturday we went to a pumpkin patch about an hour away with some friends from life group (they had really yummy caramel apples), then Sunday was our church's Fall Festival which was also lots of fun. I love fall things! I'm wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt today, isn't that great? & socks! & I made a cranberry chicken yesterday & it was quite yummy. I'm working on finding some other fall/winter recipes to experiment with.

Josh & I have dentist appointments soon. That is not fall-related, nor fun, yet it is indeed important.

Friday, October 24, 2008

yay!

Cool weather

Pumpkins & gourds

Apple cider (especially the caramel apple spice from Starbucks)

Orange, brown, & yellow

Stews & soups

Jeans & light jackets

I love fall!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Issue

I am a very opinionated person. Although I will write on here about Truth & things of the Lord, even if some people disagree (because I don't care if people disagree, because it is Truth), I do try to stay away from airing my personal opinions of things on here, mainly because only a few people REALLY know me, & I just want to stay away from stirring up controversy with people that don't know my heart.

I also hate politics. I tune out of political conversations (just ask Josh, or Kristin), mainly because so many people get so heated about things that have no eternal value. Don't get me wrong. I am informed, I allow information to come in, I just don't like discussing it all the time.

So those two things said, I have avoided any talk (on my blog) of the election & alllllll the stuff that has been on TV, Internet, radio, etc. for the past year.

However.

This is something I can't leave unsaid.

There are many, many issues I could discuss about the candidates, what they want to do, & what I think of it all. But in this election those things don't matter in regard to how I will vote.

I believe there is ONE issue of all these that God is passionate about, more than any other. That is how I will vote - for the candidate whose views & passions line up most with God's passion.

I will vote for life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Three Things

1. Gas prices have fallen below $3 in San Antonio... WHOO!!!!

2. Josh & I just watched the premiere of Kath & Kim on the internet since we were gone last night... HILARIOUS.

3. So today I was mopping & smelled a horrible stench coming from our coat closet. It seemed to be coming from Josh's hunting vest so I took it outside, then aired out the closet (which in turn stunk up the rest of the house). When Josh got home he investigated & sure enough... he had left a dove in the pocket from last weekend. There has been a bird rotting in our house for the past week. SICK.

From my time with the Lord today...

"Redeemed: The Greek word translated 'redeemed' was often used to speak of buying a slave's or debtor's freedom. Christ's death, because it was a death of substitution for sin, satisfied God's justice & exhausted His wrath toward His elect, so that Christ actually purchased believers from slavery to sin & from the sentence of eternal death (Titus 2:14; see Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7). The only adequate payment to redeem sinners from sin's slavery & its deserved punishment was 'in Christ Jesus' (1 Tim. 2:6, 1 Pet. 1:18, 19), & was paid to God to satisfy His justice."
-Galatians study, by John MacArthur

"God does not merely have love or feel love. God is love & cannot not love. As such, God yearns for relationship with the creatures made in His image."
-Prayer (Does it Make a Difference?), by Philip Yancey

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tag I'm it!

1. I hate lemon in my water. Eww, e-coli!
2. Josh & I have tiny matching freckles on our right palms.
3. I have seen "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" eleven times now.
4. I love to cook but I never think food tastes as good when I cook it opposed to when someone else does.
5. I "type" words in my mind when people talk, occasionally using my toes that coordinate with the correct finger (ya that probably qualifies me for insane).
6. I was the only person to get a 100% on the music test we took in 5th grade so they signed me up to play the oboe.
7. When I use bathrooms that have a shower in the room I have to check behind the shower curtain to make sure no one is back there first.

I'm going to tag..... Kristin (hopefully that will make you blog! :-) ), Claire, Bailey, & Molly!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Movie Review: Fireproof


I know, I never review movies. Mainly because we rarely see them, & they are rarely worth reviewing. However. AMAZING. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to go. Now would be a good time.

The plot: Kirk Cameron (so cute by the way) is the main character, a fireman who is a hero to everyone but has a horrible marriage. They are on the brink of divorce when his father encourages him to spend 40 days loving his wife; each day has a new challenge for him. He tries all of the challenges but fails, until he realizes why he can't love her - he doesn't know true love himself.

Recommendation: go, go, go see this movie. It has all elements - romance, comedy (Josh at one point during the movie said, "I didn't think I was going to laugh this much."), action, drama. It speaks TRUTH in a world of lies. SO GOOD.

Something else: I saw an interview with Kirk Cameron on the Today show. He said that he has a commitment to never kiss another woman besides his wife, even in acting, so for the kiss in the movie, they brought in his wife & used her in that scene (you wouldn't know if you hadn't heard it, she doesn't look any different the way the camera views them). Yay for MORALS in the MOVIES!

Monday, October 6, 2008

oh just some things

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I'm not sure that I have an excuse, except that I haven't been inspired to post anything! I'll update you on our lives as of late.

-Kristin & I saw Anberlin in Houston last week & it was super loud & great! We got to eat Panera Bread & a couple of the biggest cupcakes you have ever seen. It was sugary delicious. & Kristin is my hero for teaching high schoolers. Slash, I think she's insane. :-)

-Paige, Molly, Bailey & Allison, my great friends from high school, came in town this weekend & we have some fun adventures, like eating to mariachi bands at the Riverwalk, devouring super yum pancakes & french toast at Magnolia Pancake Haus, feeding adorable zebras at the Wildlife Safari thing, & browsing cute shops in Gruene! There were some memories made!

-God has been refining me, changing who I am, & it is great. Hard sometimes too. But I have been praying, Lord, my heart & mind are completely Yours, change me & make me more like Jesus! & it's amazing that He ACTUALLY does. Who I am, what I think/say/do, the dynamic of my relationships are slowly but surely changing & becoming more like what God desires. It's a process but I am so thankful that He really truly wants to be intricately involved in every aspect of our lives, if only we will let Him.

-I have been in a women's Bible study this fall, studying Galatians, & Josh & I are doing an in-depth study of Romans. I love studying the Word, you never stop learning from it no matter how many times you have read it!

-It's getting cool soon... in the 80s this week, then by Sunday it should be in the 70s! I'm SO EXCITED!

-I want to start taking walks in the evening more often... it's so easy to just be lazy.

-I love my job & the people I work with. What a blessing.

-Sometimes I really miss my friends! Claire comes back to Texas Saturday!! :-) We just love that couple.

Oh I need to go get ready! So, the end!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Beauty in Truth

Sometimes when I'm spending time in the Word, a verse jumps out at me & I read it over again... & my heart is stirred by the beauty of the truth spoken. God's Word is full of amazing promises & full of the love He has for us. If you don't spend time reading the Bible daily, I pray that you start to... there is no other way to truly know the heart of the God that created & loves us more than ANYTHING.

Whenever a verse stirs my heart, I take a whole page in my journal to write it out & dwell on it, highlighting key words or phases. I'd like to share the verses that I have written down - I pray your heart is stirred as well!

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord is steadfast love & with Him is plentiful redemption!
Psalms 130:7

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corin. 13:12

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.
1 John 4:18

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 13:10

The Lord is merciful & gracious, slow to anger & abounding in steadfast love.
Psalms 103:8

...& He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, & knowledge...
Isaiah 33:6

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace...
Hebrews 4:16

But our citizenship is in Heaven, & from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...
Phil. 3:20

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
Psalms 62:5

For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.
1 Corin. 14:33

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gingerbread Muffins

I love love love the gingerbread muffins at Jason's Deli, so I googled to get a recipe that would come close, & it did... although not as amazingly yummy as the little ones at Jason's, these muffins are pretty good (especially with butter, or if you're at our house, "I can't believe it's not butter!").

Gingerbread Muffins

1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (I did not put nuts, I close-to despise them in my food)
1 egg
1 cup molasses (I used regular)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter muffin tins or line with cupcake papers. Combine sugar, flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and nuts in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix egg, molasses, buttermilk and melted butter, and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes. Test with a toothpick; muffins are done when it comes out clean. Can also be served warm with whipped cream or ice cream as a dessert.

Source: Bed & Breakfast Cookbook by Pamela Lanier

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good free stuff today!

Go check out the Motherload today for some good free stuff - I am excited for my mailbox to soon be spouting out coffee & granola!! yumm!

Also, I was introduced to some other sampling websites - what FUN!

http://www.startsampling.com/

http://www.bargainer.com/viewsection_topics.php?f=14

& of course Walmart always has some good stuff...

http://walmart.triaddigital.com/In-Stores-Now-free-samples.aspx

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Review: The Shack by William P Young

Where to start.

I'll start with my initial feelings toward the book. All I knew was that it was supposedly written by a Christian, it was a best seller (usually those two things do not go together), & God was an African-American woman. Okay. So, I may not have read it if book club had not voted to read it.

I'm quite glad I did.

The plot: I'm going to try to be vague. The main character is Mack, & he goes through a tragedy early in the book, then gets a note from God, asking Mack to meet God at the place where the tragedy happened. Mack goes, & most of the book is about the time he spends there with God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit. (As for God being an African-American woman, God gives an explanation for why He chooses to reveal Himself in that way to Mack, & I really liked that part.)

What we talked about in book club: Everyone at book club (which this time was a big group, 17 people) loved the book. Most people had a part of the book that they didn't like, or could have done without, & the book provided many topics to discuss, such as the Trinity, why bad things happen, what God desires from us, etc.

Recommendation: If you love the Lord & have a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, I *may (see edit) recommend this book. Know that this book is fiction & cannot be taken as full truth. Only the Bible is full truth. Someone cannot read this book & then know what it is to know God & know how to love Him. I think it is a good guide, or a tool, along with scripture, because it discusses a lot of important things & makes some great points, but it does not explain itself fully in some degrees so some things could be taken the wrong way.

I really enjoyed the book & would love to hear your opinions as well.

**Edit: read the comments. I retract that people that love the Lord should read the book, now I have no idea if I recommend it. Although I enjoyed it & was not tempted to take any of it as truth, that is not the case for all & I do not want to cause anyone to be confused about REAL TRUTH.

Monday, September 15, 2008

WHOOO!

I just want to say... I am ECSTATIC about this weather. It is AMAZING. Right now it's less than 80 degrees out, & it won't even hit 90 today, WHOOO!!! Fall is coming!! Although they say it is only a front, it will get warmer again, who cares! Today is a day for driving with the windows down, sitting outside at Starbucks, & wearing jeans without sweating!!

FALL IS COMING!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Smoky tomato soup & grilled cheese

Here is a recipe for you! I made this the other night for the first time. I'm not a huge tomato soup fan, but I liked the flavor of this one, so if you really like tomato soup, you will probably love it. I think it will be a good meal for when we have several chillins running around one day.

This is a Rachael Ray recipe, but I have made some modifications.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus additional
4 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Butter for sandwiches
16 slices of party-size (small squares) rye bread (I used sourdough)
16 small, square slices sharp cheddar cheese, cut into slices 1/4-inch thick (Cracker Barrel brand is the perfect size)

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp, stirring every now and then, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the crispy bacon from the pot and reserve for the Mini Grilled Cheese Sammies.

To the soup pot, add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then for 4-5 minutes, until they start to get tender.

Remove the tender veggies from the pot to a food processor or blender, throw in a big splash of the chicken stock and the marjoram, and puree until smooth.

Return the veggies to the pot, place back over medium-high heat and add the remaining chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes and heavy cream, if you are using it. Bring up to a bubble and simmer while you make the sammies.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Assemble your grilled cheese sandwiches, with cheese & bacon on the inside, & the bread buttered on the outside. Grill the sandwiches on both sides until the bread is browned & the cheese is melted.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

DC pictures

Here are some long awaited DC pictures!

Here's everything we did, with some pictures:

National Cathedral

Nationals vs. Braves game (we surprised Josh with tickets, he is a Braves fan)

Philadelphia: Independence Hall, Liberty Hall, Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, Benjamin Franklin's grave, Philadelphia Musuem of Art (& the famous Rocky steps), philly cheesesteak (this is not just a meal, it's an event)
International Spy Museum

Washington Monument

World War II Memorial

Veitnam Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

JFK 's grave & the eternal flame (& Robert E Lee's house, in the background)

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Mount Vernon

Old Town Alexandria

Georgetown
Bureau of Engraving & Printing (where they make money)
Smithsonian Castle & The National Museum of Natural History

White House (tour!)

Capitol tour

National Archives (where the Declaration & Constitution are)
Jefferson Memorial

We also tried to go in Ford Theater & The American History Museum but they were closed... we will see them next time!
It was definitely the busiest vacation we have ever been on! But we had a lot of fun with Zac & Cara & everything we saw was so cool.

Friday, September 5, 2008

home!

We are back from DC! We spent the past week in DC & a day in Philadelphia, & we were so busy seeing all the sights, & after a delayed flight coming home, we are exhausted! & now having to play catch up, as well as a LOT of work for me during the next few days with church stuff.

SO, come back in a few days to see pictures from vacation!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I love free (& cheap!) stuff

I love coupons! They are great. It's fun to see how much money you can save by getting the best deal possible.

One thing I think some people do that messes up the whole saving-money part of using coupons is that they use coupons for products they MIGHT use. Only use coupons when you are sure you will use the product (I never let anything go to waste in our kitchen, sometimes we'll eat leftovers days in a row because I won't cook something new until we make sure we have eaten what we already have!). If you don't like cottage cheese, don't use a coupon for nearly-free cottage cheese just because you can.

I cut out or print off coupons for products that we either already use, or things I am pretty sure I would like (like Laughing Cow cheese, I got that based on a coupon & really liked it). Coupons are a fun way to try new things, but try to minimalize risk.

Josh & I drink coffee on Sunday mornings, & he will read the newspaper while I cut out coupons. It has become a fun time for us, plus I get really excited about what I find!

Also, I'm not sure about other grocery stores because we live in HEB land, but I'm sure they are doing this as well: HEB has been putting out TONS of their own coupons that have really good deals!! Make sure you check out the coupon section at your grocery store.

Here are some great links for websites you can check almost daily for new coupons:

http://www.coupons.com/
www.momadvice.com/blog
http://www.freebies4mom.blogspot.com/
www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom
http://www.creativelyhomemaking.blogspot.com/

The Mom Advice blog also puts up codes for free Redbox rentals.

If you know of any other great blogs, please let me know!

Enjoy saving money!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

why oh why??

For some reason, I have discovered that most of my nail polishes are both really old & all pink. I mean, not that you want to be painting your toe nails purple or green (or maybe you do, but I don't), but I didn't have any reds. Plus since they are old, I thought I'd buy a new one. So yesterday I bought a new red nail polish.

Just now I was painting my toe nails. Why oh why do sometimes I do a good job painting my toe nails, & sometimes it looks like I dipped my feet in red or pink paint? I don't know. But today's situation was the latter, unfortunately.

So I'm on coat two, getting nail polish all over my toes, but you know, it comes off when you bathe, or at least it seems to be gone by the next day, so I'm holding on to hope that it will look good tomorrow.

A blob drops on to our bathroom tile. Eek! So I quickly get it off with my finger, then go to wash the nail polish off my finger at the sink. It won't come off with just water, so I rub it off with two other fingers. Blast! It just spread all over. I grab the nail polish remover & pour it on my fingers & rub them together. Why oh why doesn't nail polish remover work on skin?! I tried soap, to no avail.

So now I look like I grabbed a knife by the wrong end. Here I go out into the world, to show everyone my nail polishing skillz!!



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicken to tide you over

Sorry for the lack of posting! I have been really busy with work stuff. Not the kind of busy that it is affecting my normal routine (working out, laundry, cooking, etc), so it's a good kind of busy. Either way, I haven't had much time to blog!

I did mean to tell you though, we voted in book club on the books for the next several months, & there are some good ones, & you can be looking for an interesting review for the first book in a couple of weeks!

For now, here is an easy & yummy recipe (I don't know where I got it, but I don't take credit for it!):

Company Chicken

4 chicken breasts (I got three massive ones, so I cut them in half, ending up with six smaller ones - I like downsizing most servings anyways so you don't feel obligated to eat what it placed in front of you)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
4 oz sour cream (half a small container)
Bacon (I aimed for two per chicken breast)
Salt & pepper (I used garlic salt, I love garlic)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Season chicken with salt & pepper.
Wrap each chicken breast in bacon.
Place chicken in baking dish.
Mix sour cream & soup & cover chicken with mixture.
Bake at 300 for 2 hours.
In the last 5 mins, cover in mozzarella cheese.

Josh got real excited when he realized there was bacon in there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

good stuff

For the word of God is living & active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul & of spirit, of joints & of marrow, & discerning the thoughts & intentions of the heart.

& no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked & exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:12-16

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pickle Pants (& a discovery)

Yesterday I opened a jar of pickles & juice got all over my pants. Eww.

Did you know pickles are a super low calorie snack? They do have plenty of sodium though, so don't eat a jar for lunch or anything.

Speaking of food, I have a new yummy snack - 100 calorie packs of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen butter cookies! WAY YUM! I know some nutritionists don't like the 100 calorie packs, because they don't have many nutritional benefits, or whatever, but let's get real - sometimes you just need a sugary snack, & better to eat only 100 calories of it than more! Plus I love love love carbs, in any form (bread, crackers, cookies, cake, muffins, most sugar in general), so I got really excited when I discovered they are truly yum (& won't go straight to my hips :-) ).

I am in organize mode! I have been trying to transform our dining room-turned-study into my personal office, while also trying to clear out what we don't need/use in there & in Toby's room (aka the junk room, also our future baby room), so we can simplify & get junk up in the attic instead of around the house. It's quite the task! But I am motivated so I must run with it while that feeling exists. I hope to start painting/working on our bathroom after we get back from vacation, so I think that's my next project... it will be quite the transformation I think, so I will definitely put up pictures when it's done (but don't expect that to be too soon!).

I found a great new blog - Mom Advice (there is also a link to the left). She puts up great homemaker stuff, mom stuff, also posts where there are free giveaways (such as yesterday, a code for a free movie from redbox.com). Go explore!

Friday, August 15, 2008

what a stud

I have to brag.

Yesterday Josh got his second raise in 5 months!!! We were both very surprised but very thankful!! He's only been with the company a little over a year, but they have taken notice of not only his hard work, but the fact that he cares about people & of course is super friendly, & they have made it obvious that they are very impressed with him & want to invest in him because they want him to move up quickly. I'm so proud of him! He loves the Lord & his coworkers know that & I know God has HUGE plans to use Josh in his company.

I also got a raise earlier this week because lately I have taken on more responsibilities with the church. I have been encouraged & excited about my job after some recent blah-ness, so I'm thankful for what God is doing with that.

So, we are going to dinner to celebrate tonight! :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I just ate a really good nectarine. Mmmmmm!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A couple things, & banana pudding

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I have been pretty busy, believe it or not! I went to a two-day conference last week. It was a leadership conference put on by the Willow Creek church in Chicago & we watched it here as a simulcast. It was really good.

For those of you who have been praying for my knees (thank you for asking how I'm doing!), they are doing slightly better. I can do the elliptical now for 30 minutes which is really great since it used to hurt to do it for 5. I walk on the treadmill every day, & today, I just wanted to RUN. Back in the day when I used to run 2 miles during my workout, I never would have thought that if I stopped, I would miss it. But I do. So often I wish I could just take off & run. Today I succumbed & ran a quarter of a mile, fast! It was great even though I couldn't push it more than that. I'm continuing to pray for healing!

I do have a new recipe. It is called Aunt Betty's Banana Pudding (from allrecipes.com). I made it for life group last week. It is really yummy, & pretty rich, so serve up smaller portions than you usually would.

Aunt Betty's Banana Pudding

2 (3.4 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix (I used french vanilla)
1 cup milk
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) container sour cream (I used fat free)
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (again, fat free, I promise it won't take away from the taste)
6 bananas, sliced (I thought that was a lot, I used 3)
1/2 (12 oz) package vanilla wafers (I used almost the whole package, everyone knows that is the best part!)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix and milk and stir until mix is dissolved. Refrigerate 15 minutes, until partially set.

Stir condensed milk into pudding mixture until smooth. Fold in sour cream and whipped topping. Fold in bananas.

Make a single layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 9x13 inch dish. Spread pudding evenly over wafers. (I repeated this process, with about 4 layers of wafers & pudding). Crush remaining wafers and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate until serving.

Yum!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soup & short bread (ohh I giggle!)

So, I tried two new recipes Monday. One for a soup, out of my Four Ingredient cookbook, & another for Irish Soda Bread (recipe from one of the blogs I visit, click here for the recipe & pictures of the bread he made). I love trying new recipes; I even love it more than redoing recipes that I know are good. So trying TWO new recipes at once?! I was having a blast in the kitchen.

However.

To me, in the world of cooking, there is nothing more disappointing than trying a new recipe that you think will turn out great, & it doesn't.

So, two disappointments in one day stinks!

Let me start with the soup.

Essentially, the recipe in the book called for vegetable broth, roasted garlic, boiled potatoes, & parsley. I threw in some carrots & leeks. I let it simmer a good while, because I like all the flavors to mingle, & used lots of salt, pepper, & even eventually hot sauce to give it a kick. It was okay. It was bland; none of the flavors really... expressed themselves. I'm going to add ground beef to the leftovers to get some meat in there (the lack of was Josh's #1 complaint). I won't remake it.

Now for the bread. Here's the recipe for Irish Soda Bread (again, from a blog):

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup buttermilk

Directions:
1. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and oats in a bowl.
2. Mix in the buttermilk and form a dough.
3. Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).

I don't have a bread maker yet, so this recipe appealed to me (plus it did not involve kneading, PLUS plus the picture looked really yummy). So I made it. It smelled really good baking that is for sure! I pulled it out aaannnddd.....

It had risen a full 1 1/2 inches!!!!!



Um... alright!

It tasted good, but I had a bit of a problem with the size. After asking the good cook man owner of the blog, he suggested my baking soda may have been expired - indeed, it was to expire soon (altho it hadn't expired YET, but whatever).

I will for sure make it again, probably soon, new baking soda box in tow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Because you didn't get enough last week...

For those of you who read through my post about complaining a few days ago, I wanted to write about what our pastor talked about regarding those same verses this past Sunday.

Either later today or tomorrow I'm going to post about the two new recipes I tried, so check back for that.

You know the two points we focused on in our life group when discussing the verses Philippians 2:14-15. Our pastor mainly focused on something else that I want to follow up on. He did talk about how complaining is always our fault - we complain, sometimes to place blame on something or someone else that is just ruining our day, but it's always our fault:

James 4:1-2 - "What causes fights & quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill & you covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel & fight."

(Again, I must reiterate, it absolutely makes me sick how selfish we really are. We think SO HIGHLY of ourselves that we must complain when things don't go our way!)

But what he spent most of his time talking about is what happens when we DON'T complain (because since the Bible says not to do it; usually good things happen when we are obedient; so God has a purpose for telling us not to complain).

First, we look very very different from the world when we don't complain. Everybody complains. It can even help "bond" people, if there is nothing else to talk about - complain about something ("can you BELIEVE this heat??" "my husband did this thing again, ugh, men!", etc). So not complaining makes us stand out, which is what we're going for - not looking like the world, but looking like Jesus. Accepting situations & thanking Jesus for how good He is - IMAGINE the stares!!

A few other points... God is able to work & receive glory when we don't complain. Taking our eyes off ourselves lets God use us! I'm sure you have noticed, as I have, that when we are being selfish, we create a bit of a barrier for God to work.

I become aware of what God is doing - again, that whole taking-our-eyes-off-ourselves thing, & being aware of the conditions & needs of others shows us what God is doing or wants to do around & through you.

I will experience the presence of the Holy Spirit when I don't complain. It's hard to be selfless, & it's hard not to complain, since it's our nature to do so. But when we fight that nature & obey the call of God on our lives, we experience joy & peace & realize how good He is!

At church we all got bracelets to wear to help us not to complain . When we find ourselves complaining, we are to change the bracelet from one wrist to the next. It's a 21-day challenge. I'm hoping those three weeks will train me to become aware of when I am tempted to complain, & be able to take my selfish thoughts & throw them out the window (or my ear, that being the gateway to my head, to make that metaphor work literally... oh but metaphors aren't literal? Hm).

Note: this is in no way a "positive thinking" thing, like many worldly self-help programs. It's important to know the scripture & do what it takes to become obedient to it. & that's it.

I hope you'll try to stop complaining with me!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

go exploring!

I have added a new section to the blog layout - cooking &/or homemaker blogs. Check them out! There are lots of fun recipes to explore, as well as useful tips for the home. I will add new ones as I find ones I like. If you have any blogs or websites I need to know about, please share!

I promise I will start posting recipes soon. I will only post recipes that I have tried & think are worth sharing. Unfortunately, it is much cheaper these days to fix easy meals like rice & grilled chicken & broccoli, or even hamburger helper, so I don't try out new recipes as often as I would like. But I am busting out my four-ingredient cookbook tomorrow night so I'll let you know if it turns out well.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Would you like some cheese with your whine?

This week at Life Group we talked about complaining, based on Philippians 2:14-15:

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless & innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked & twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."

& it was one of those times when I realize what a big fat loser I am. You know those times? They are bittersweet. It is a blessing to have the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to know that you are being refined to look more like Jesus, but at the same time you realize how much "flesh" is still left in you, & you grieve over it, because you don't want to sin!

But recently God revealed something to me - one of those times when He makes a truth very real to you, & all of a sudden it makes perfect sense. I am not to make myself good for God, but instead God is making me good, over time. He does not shake his head at us & "tsk, tsk" when we sin - He says, "it's okay, get back up, we'll try again." (Please note that I speak of true believers, people that know the Lord; He forgives our sin because we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He is a just God & people who do not accept Jesus' sacrifice for us will be judged accordingly [hell].)

All that to say, all of my life I have been a rule-follower. This is not necessarily a bad thing (in my opinion, of course!). But because of my rule-following nature, I have always thought I need to just do the right thing, creating my own righteousness basically, then when I messed up I beat myself up over it. I lacked grace for others & myself. But God is revealing His grace to me. I am finally seeing His love & salvation for us as a perfect mix of grace & the law. When we love the Lord & know Him, we need to & should want to obey Him. & God is showing me how grace fits in perfectly.

It's so good when God reveals truth to you. It might not make sense in any logical kind of way, but God is so much bigger than logic.

Back to complaining. We kept coming back to two things: first, we complain because we think we have rights. We have the right to be treated in the best way by everyone, we have the right to go about our way without disturbance, we have the right for everything to be exactly how we want it. & when those things don't happen, we complain. Yuuccckk. How selfish are we. We, especially as Christians, have no rights! If only we lived life for Jesus instead of ourselves. If only we could stop thinking of ourselves as so important.

Second thing: everything comes back to the condition of your heart. Only you know why you say what you say. You know if you want to tear someone down, or if you have a genuine concern for their situation. You know the intent of your words. (Hopefully you've noticed by now that most of the time, when I say "you, " I mean everyone, the general public, including myself.) If ONLY everything I said were profitable!!

God is working in my heart in this whole complaining thing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

*insert jeopardy music* (the four-hour long version)

I'm here waiting on the AT&T guy. Don't you love when they say, "he'll be there in between one & five?" I get nervous to go to the bathroom. What if he comes JUST as I sit down?? & that's no fun... no one likes to feel rushed when going to the bathroom!

I also get nervous when the first two hours have passed sans phone man. What if he forgot? At what point should I call? I know the answer to that one would be "after 5, duh," but then that means he doesn't come today, & that means I have to wait on hold for 2 hours again to schedule another appointment for a couple days from now & he has to come today! See what I mean? It's stressful waiting in a four-hour block!

For those of you anxious to see what is to come following the previous post, don't hold your breath too much! All I know is that I think I'll soon do a post on salvation, & that verse captivated me yesterday so I thought I'd share it with you. Don't you love when a verse does that? The words flow so well, almost melodically, & not because it's poetic (although it may be), but because it is TRUTH & it hits you right in the heart, & you can't stop thinking about it.

So we'll see what comes. :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

eventually more to come...

How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

Hebrews 2:3

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Communion hog

So today we had communion at church. This was exciting, because in the past year, we have missed most communions due to being back in Sunday School with our second graders. So yay for communion.

Anyways, so we file out of our row & stand in line to grab a piece of cracker-type "bread" & some grape juice. File, stand, take, walk, sit back down. Once we were seated again, waiting on everyone else to get theirs, I tapped Josh on the shoulder. He looked over & held up my cracker - a big piece nearly as long as my forefinger. He grinned & shook his head at me, in that "you are ridiculous" kind of way. I think he called me a goober or something too.

It's true... in the two seconds I have to scan over all the cracker pieces I have to choose from, I quickly spot the biggest available & take it. I love bread. & crackers are bread-like.

I was hungry too, does that make me less ridiculous??

Friday, July 18, 2008

A walk in the park

Josh & I took a lovely walk last night. I just love San Antonio terrain. I love all the oak trees (they just grow on their own - that in itself is amazing, coming from Midland). It really is pretty nice outside in the morning & late evening, even though it is sweltering during the day.

On our walk we talked about what God is teaching us & specific issues He has us praying about & researching through scripture. He is teaching us a lot & we are both hungry for scripture & have the desire to know what it says & what it means, making sure everything we do & believe can be traced back to scripture - personal opinions & experiences mean nothing if they cannot be backed up by the Bible.

I am going through Hebrews & I'm pretty excited about it. I haven't gone through it in a while. I'm taking 5 verses at a time, reading them, studying them, listening to the Holy Spirit speak truth through each chunk of scripture.

Lindsey is coming to spend the day with me! It should be a fun time.

I am also excited to receive the cookbook I ordered, it will come by mail any day now. Claire recommended it to me, & I bought it for 31 cents. :-) I love new recipes! Especially easy ones!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Very feminine

Yesterday my fingernails were as long as I think they've ever been, not gross long, but pretty long. One always breaks so I end up cutting them all short, but they were doing really well so I wanted to see what it would be like to have long fingernails... it's kind of annoying. So I cut them. But I felt pretty despite the irritation. I always felt like there were two prerequisites to being a wife - you must have pretty cursive writing & long pretty fingernails. I hadn't written in cursive since elementary school, but thanks to weeks of addressing wedding invitations then writing thank you notes, I write in cursive again. But the fingernails... well, I did it once, that should be enough!

I am dog-sitting for my parents' dog Riley. She's a bichon, which Sage is half of (other half scottie). It's funny looking at them both & seeing similarities they have. Like how they sleep.




Since they are from the same breeder, we like to think they are related, so they call each other "Cousin Sage" & "Cousin Riley," naturally.

I think I shall go start a new book!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis


This is a doozey of a book to be my first review, but it was indeed July's book, so here we go!!

This book is based on the myth of Psyche & Cupid. If you are not familiar with the myth, there is a summary in the very back of the book - it would have been nice to read that BEFORE reading the rest of the book! Needless to say, I was thoroughly confused the entire time I read the book. In my defense, I don't know that Lewis wanted it to make sense entirely - as we discussed in book club, we had to come to several conclusions on our own, & even still we are not sure of them.

The plot: the myth is retold from the perspective of Psyche's sister, Orual, the ugly one (Psyche's beauty is praised by all), & is Orual's journey to learn about the gods, & why they do what they do, specifically in regard to her sister Psyche. She writes out her story as a charge, an accusation, of the gods, while putting a different spin on the original myth. Her accusation is most of the book, then a small section at the end is her "answer" to the accusation (all told in story form).

What we talked about in book club: Apparently CS Lewis was really into myths, & he thought myths of gods to be the result of early humanity's search to understand THE God. So he used this myth to eventually point to the only God. (There are entire courses at seminary based on CS Lewis so we had to find this out from one girl's brother-in-law who is a pastor.) The book made a lot more sense to me after we all talked it out, mainly because I just needed a background for the book to understand it & what Lewis was aiming at. There are several themes running through the book that I became aware of after the book made more sense to me (but I definitely didn't catch them as I read it).

Recommendation: Hmm, I think one day I'll read it again, having an appropriate understanding of the book, & I'll probably like it more then. But if it sounds intriguing to you, do read it & let me know what you think. :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blog overhaul

I felt the itch for some change in my life, & here you see the result! I changed up the template, & added labels to each post so you can read all of my posts about "our home," or whatever topic, by the click of a button (see left, scroll down). I also changed the title. As you should know, I love coffee, & to me it represents relationships, conversation, focus with the intent of listening (whether this is all with another person or with the Lord), as I feel that this blog, why I blog, is to not only keep you updated on what's going on in our lives, but to share my thoughts with you, things God has impressed on my heart, or things that randomly pop into my head (& I would think you read it so you can know these things as well, any other reasons I would like to know of :-) ).

I have also decided to start putting up more recipes & pictures, & I will be introducing book reviews. I am in a book club for our church so I think it would be fun to review the book we read each month (& perhaps some of the books I read on my own).

Hopefully I'll become more diligent about posting as well. :-)

C

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We Recycle Now.

I know right? First we get all gas-conscious by trading the SUV for a Corolla, & now THIS?! Are we GREEN??? Okay, probably not. One day I just decided we should start recycling. San Antonio something-or-other-recycling-whatever provides homeowners with a green bin that you can fill with recyclables & they pick it up once a week. There is a lot of stuff we just throw away that we can recycle!! I have a complex about hating to be wasteful, so this fits in perfectly with my mental issues, plus it's good for the environment & what not. So, you should recycle too. :-)

This weekend we had lots of fun with Paige & Jason. We had planned on floating the river, so we went to the spot that Josh & I like, away from the beaten path, & the river that last year took us an hour & a half to float was this year going to take FIVE & a half hours!! It is so low because of the current drought. So, we opted to kayak instead!! Aren't we adventurous?? It was fun (altho it got really tiring toward the end, especially since the wind starting making the water flow backwards for about a mile making it seem like we were paddling upstream), but at one point Jason's kayak knocked mine from the side, pushing me to the right, & right into a tree stump - where a WATER MOCCASIN was nested!!! Oh my. It was really big, & it couldn't have been more than 4 feet from my face. I freaked out juuusstt a little bit. I don't think it ever moved, but I had instant visions in my head of it's big, white fangs bursting forward & sinking themselves into my face, causing me to die a painful death in the middle of the Guadalupe. But alas, I lived to tell the tale. I think it will be a while before I go hanging out in snake-infested waters again tho....

C

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Jesus & friends

We have some new friends. Their names are Caleb & Laura (their blog is to the right, The Schafer's blog, if you are interested). I am so blessed by their friendship. Within two times of being around each other, the four of us instantly became good friends, & it's because so much of our conversation is based on the truth of the gospel. We talk about God's Word, how He is working in our lives, about lies & deception we see, about how we struggle & need accountability (this last one is something that should be done girl to girl, guy to guy by the way). They have encouraged us to be bold in speaking to strangers about Jesus. Together we have made packages to give to the homeless we see. Laura & I set a precedent of being real, admitting neither of us like putting on any kind of facade & knowing that whatever the other says is real & honest, not what we "should" say. They are in our life group, along with other amazing couples, & along with these relationships, just being at our church for the past year has painted such a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ to me. There is so much love, service, encouragement, prayer, accountability, & support in that church, all based around truth & unity. God sure knew what He was doing when He told us what the church should look like. It should point us & others to Jesus, & I am amazed that God has allowed us to be a part of something so glorifying to Him, not just our church body, but the personal relationships Josh & I have with others.

At the same time God is trying to teach me how to love people. Selflessness is a difficult thing to master, mainly because the only way we can be selfless is by keeping our minds on Jesus, & unfortunately in a world of self-made agendas & pursuits, that is a battle. But He is showing me how to love & serve, not just people I know but people I don't know as well, & with a right heart, without judgment, with compassion & mercy. Apparently this is hard for me.

God is doing a lot of things, some good, like the first paragraph, some challenging, like the second. But I am so thankful that He finds me worthy of refinement & blessings.

I am so excited... we are planning a vacation! We had thrown around a few ideas of places to go, since we'd like to take some sort of vacation each year, but everything was a little (or a lot) on the pricey side of things. But, Josh's BFF (aeaeae) Zac just moved to DC, & we just earned our second free flight with our credit card (we pay it off each month, we just use it for the benefits & to boost our credit score), SO we are planning a trip to DC! We are super excited. We have never been there, & Zac will be a great tour guide since he has seen all the sites. We are also planning on taking the AmTrak to Philadelphia. It will be a really fun (& cheap!!) vacation!!

Jason & Paige are coming to stay with us this weekend, yay! We have some fun plans... it will be a good time!!

Have a great fourth of July!

C

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts on adoption

Many of you who know us well know we plan to adopt at least one child one day, most likely a trans-racial baby, & most likely through New Life Adoption Agency. I have always wanted to adopt, although never felt a true calling to adopt until Josh & I were doing premarital counseling with the Bacaks, who have two adopted children (who are ADORABLE). Before we were even married, Josh & I both felt a real passion & desire to adopt, specifically through the same agency the Bacaks went through (Jenn's mom also works for the agency). The details are unknown to us - when, how many children, etc. But it's something we are excited about doing in our future.

The other day I was speaking with a friend about adoption (as her & her husband are also planning to adopt, & she is adopted) & all of a sudden I got hit with the reality of it all. What if we get chosen by a birthmom, then she changes her mind right after she has the baby? What will the relationship look like between our adopted child & his/her birthmom throughout his/her life? Our trans-racial child will probably experience racism in his/her life & it will break our hearts. Although I knew these things before, it has never troubled me like it did suddenly. But then I realized almost as soon as these things hit me - it doesn't matter. God has placed this calling on our lives. It doesn't matter how it works out or what happens. The process will most likely be trying, & we will have to learn how to have grace for people who say & do stupid things (see this story from the Bacaks blog). But God has a plan & it will be amazing to see it worked out. I'm excited about it!

My scalp is peeling from getting sun last weekend. It looks like I have big white chunks gathering at my hairline. Grrrooosssssss!!! It's a ponytail day!!

Have a good weekend!

C

Friday, June 13, 2008

List revisions.

I have the hiccups. I am not a fan of the hiccups. You never know when they will come (like when you try to swallow & you hiccup at the same time - OUCH), or when they will end. I used to only get the hiccups before I got sick... no kidding, I would get the hiccups, then within a couple days I would get a cold or something. I don't think that's the case anymore.

So in going through my old blogs I found a list I made at some point... I can't remember what the date was; I'd guess around sophomore year. I found it interesting... so here it is, with updated commentary. :-)

I want to know that every day I've lived has mattered... that some conversation, some experience, some circumstance was memorable or has changed me or someone else in some way.

Amen. That is hard for me these days, when the only time I leave the house is for the occasional work meeting, grocery store & other errands, etc. It's hard to see what God wants for my days right now when my life seems so solitary. I suppose it's true that God has taught me a lot lately. But am I influencing people??

I want to listen to more music - worship, alternative, classical - & absorb the different sounds - melodies, harmonies - & hear the way the words have formed a poetic story.

Well, okay, I seem to have settled into what I like... & that's about all I listen to. You who know me well know I rarely stray from my Christian rock. :-)

I want to be able to speak to complete strangers.

Hmm. Ya, I think I've become better at this, more confident. But it's still hard for me to really engage with people I don't know, like the checker at the grocery store. I want to be able to ask them how I can pray for them. I need to pray for that.

I want to write more often, in different forms, specifically a journal so I can eventually look back & see how God has changed me.

I have two journals - one I update rarely, just to catch up on what's going on in life so I can go back & read it one day & remember, & another that I write in when spending time with the Lord. I write in that one whenever I feel like God has placed a specific thought or idea on my heart, something I want to remember; I write in that one almost every day. I recommend doing that.

I want to live more by emotion & less by logic.

Ha... talk about a switcheroo. No more emotions, please! Being married to Josh has made me realize how much my emotions control my thoughts, my actions, my reactions, & I hate it. Emotions should not guide me because they rarely line up with Jesus (at least in my life)!!

I want a God-given passion to drive me to do my best & work my hardest in everything I do.

I still strive for this. Even in the mundane parts of life, I try to remember that I work as unto the Lord, not man. God deserves my best in what He has asked me to do, even the little things like laundry. I want to have joy in every aspect of my life.

I want to know that Jesus has initiated every circumstance in my life & trust that He will complete everything He begins.

I have been focusing on that verse a lot in the past couple of weeks (I think I mentioned it in my last post). I don't know if you have these days, but sometimes I just feel like the scum of the earth, so far from looking like Jesus it makes me sick. I have to remember - He's still working on me! & He won't give up! He will bring it to completion.

I want to love people, without fear of rejection or hurt, because the love I give will be a blessing, & the hurts I receive will build me into a stronger person.

This is probably one of my main struggles in life. It's hard for me to love people when I don't know if they do/will love me back. (Love meaning actions or pursual of relationship... either one.) I want to be able to, though.

C

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Remember the old days?

I have been reading through my old blog from college the past couple of days (since I think it's going to be deleted due to lack of use) & wow it's crazy to reminisce. I remember things I had forgotten, & realized how much God changed me & spoke things into my life in those four years. It's easy to forget where you've come from... who you used to be. It's so comforting to see & remember that God has been working so hard on me in the past several years (or rather I have been letting Him for that long, He probably tried before then with less cooperation from me), & I really see the truth behind the fact that "God will complete the work He has begun in [me]." I guess I'm at one of those points where you realize how far you have to go... that I have a LONG LONG way to go before I look like Jesus... but it's good to see that yes, in fact, I am closer today than I was a year ago, two years ago, etc. It is by the grace of God that I know Jesus better more & more as time goes on.

It also made me miss a few friends &, not that I miss college like I wish I were still there, but I really enjoy remembering it - remembering Java shakes at sweets & studying for hours, hanging out in the MSC, football games, random hangouts with friends... A&M was good to me.

I wish I could print out my old blog in journal format so I could always have it... but it's over three years of blogs, so I'm pretty sure that would be miserable to copy & paste. I think I'll start doing it with this one tho.

Sorry it's been a while since I last updated... I haven't really been in the mood. I'll catch you up on things.

Josh & I celebrated our one-year anniversary in Dallas a couple weeks ago. We stayed at the Hilton near the Galleria (for $55 of course) & had a really yummy meal near downtown (including the best rum cake I have EVER had!). & for those of you curious, yup, our cake was still yummy a year later. I pretty much ate the whole thing (really, Josh only ate one piece, I ate the rest... over a week so I felt less gluttonous).

Work has slowed down a lot for me (just for the summer) so I have set out to do things around the house, like paint our bedroom, get wedding pictures on the walls, etc. I think I'll make our bathroom my July project... it needs new paint on the walls, cabinets, & new cabinet knob things, & new towel racks.

That's it for now. Back to old blog reading....

C

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Almond cupcakes with buttercream icing

I'm sitting here, watching the steam rise in curls from my Sweet Eugene's mug, & all I can think about it how good God is. How every good & perfect thing comes from Him. How He lavishes His love on us... all the while we are often too distracted to notice. How He caused the pink flowers in my hanging plant to bloom, how the oak trees sway in the wind that He controls, how I am living in this house that He provided with my husband that He chose me for, & how it is all so good. Even how situations that seem bad or not so fun can reflect His goodness. I think if we really, really realized how much He loves us, how much our God & Creator longs for us, we could only stand in awe of Him. We are so undeserving. But only by Jesus' blood are we considered worthy, holy, redeemed.

Paige & Jason got married this weekend, & it was a beautiful wedding. I love seeing God unite two people that love Him & each other! I also got to spend time with good friends that I hadn't seen in a while, & that was a lot of fun. We got some pretty cute pictures out of the weekend (Jenna, I want to see yours!).

You know what's crazy? I also know of 8 other couples that got married this past Saturday. What was the deal with May 17th?? I mean, I personally think this coming weekend is the best weekend to get married... 3-day anniversary weekend ever year!! ;-)

Oh, & if the title of this post doesn't make you drool, well, you are wrong. I gained at least 5 pounds this weekend. But it all tasted sooooo good. :-)

That's it for now, my friends... next week I'll let you know all about our anniversary weekend!

C

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

all OVER the place!

Jason Castro got voted off last week... it was his time. I was rooting for him, as you know, but I didn't think he deserved to be in the top three (esp. after last week's performance) & I was actually afraid the Aggies would vote so much that they'd keep him on - one person voted over 700 times! Wow. But it's down to the last three!! INTENSE. I'll be sad when it's over... it's really the only show Josh & I try to watch.

I am getting to where I really love our house (not that I ever didn't like it, you know what I mean). I really like the kitchen now that it is painted & decorated; I think it's my favorite room. I love finding good deals on things, like half-price stuff at Hobby Lobby, & I found two pretty paintings at WalMart to go in the study that were $12 each! It will be cool to see what the house looks like in a few years after we have buy more furniture & have all the rooms painted the colors we want them (& when I say "we" I mostly mean "I"). I'm keeping an eye out for on-sale window treatments for the study, so if you see any good deals anywhere let me know! I'll try to get some pictures to put up soon so those of you who haven't seen it yet can see what we've done. :-)

OH, speaking of, for those of you who remember my dream about painting, well, apparently I am not done with the school-freak-out dreams... I had a dream the other day that I had missed the final in some class & I was wondering if the grades I had gotten on previous tests would make up for a zero on the final to make a passing grade. It's a good feeling to wake up & realize it's all a dream!!

Wedding season summer 2008 begins this weekend! Paige & Jason are getting married Saturday, then I get to hang out with Leah the rest of the weekend while Josh bachelor-parties with Evan's crew, then Evan & Erica are getting married next weekend (also our anniversary weekend - it's been a year!!! wow), then a free weekend, then Leah's wedding! Yum wedding cake. I love weddings. :-) I'm also looking forward to seeing friends.

Summer's in the air... can you feel it? (& I don't just mean the heat & humidity!). My potted flowers are blooming, people are outside taking walks, & we went to a pool cook out this weekend. I want a snow-cone!

Has this update been random enough for you? I feel like my mind is all over the place. Not too much inspiration going on right now.

So... okay. :-)

C

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I drink Crystal Light a lot now.

So wow, did y'all see American Idol this week? (Bailey I think you might be the only person that will care to read this part!) It's getting so good! Everyone left is talented, so there is no telling who will get kicked off each week. I thought for sure Jason was a goner (I don't like that word, it looks like it should be pronounced go-ner). But no! He wasn't even in the bottom two. Crazy. Now, I'm rooting for Jason to stay on each week, mainly because he's an Aggie (he is talented too, but not the best, in my opinion). I definitely think David Cook should win. He is stinkin good! He sings well & puts together amazing music to go with whatever song he picked. I'm afraid that David Archuleta, who sings well but is boring (but you all know I like rock music a lot more than pop anyways so he's just not my style), will win JUST because teeny-boppers have unlimited texting & go nuts for him. Poo. Either way, I'm sure David Cook will make a CD, & I'm so buying it!

I used a lot of parenthesis in that paragraph.

God has been teaching me SO MUCH lately. I think I can say that He has grown & refined me more in this past year than ever before. I have a better understanding of His character & His Holy Spirit & a better grasp on what it is to hear from the Lord & obey when He speaks. Of course, like always, the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know, & I can only hope that He continues to move like crazy so I can look more like Jesus. I'm simply amazed that He finds me worthy of all He's doing in & around me. That's the part that is just GOD - I'm NOT worthy, at all. I'm sinful & fleshy & icky all over. But God's grace is HUGE & Jesus's blood covers me. & for that I am so thankful!

That's all for now. I'm sleepy so I need to go do something. SEE YA!

C

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Fear of the Lord

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

-Jesus, in Matthew 12:36-37

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Knees & cars & Jesus

I guess I could update.....

So much has been going on I don't even know where to start.

Well, some of you know my knees have been hurting for about 7 months or so. I kept thinking they would get better, especially since I have not worked out in about a month, but they have only gotten worse. I finally got to the doctor (I hate going to the doctor) & he rattled off a long name, described as "premature arthritis." (After googling, I think the long name he said is Chondromalacia Patella.) He gave me things to do to try to lessen the pain & strengthen my muscles around my knee, & a supplement to take, so we'll see if it helps. I have to go back in 3 months. Hopefully it will get better....

We traded my SUV in for a car on Saturday. God used the experience to show me what a brat I am. After lots of praying & talking we decided that it was wise to get a car, since the car (a Corolla) will last forever & gets MUCH MUCH better gas mileage, & since we travel a lot that will save us a lot of money. I liked my SUV, with the sunroof & butt-warmers & premium sound system, but my upset-ness was very selfish & once I realized what a snob I was, I was thankful that God has provided so much for us. Isn't it all too easy to get caught up in what we "want" & holding on to possessions? God is loosening my grip on "things" - they don't matter! Jesus matters! Maybe one day my thoughts & actions will actually reflect that fact...

I'm reading The Mark of the Lion series again since my book club is reading it (I totally recommend the series by the way!). The main character is a Christian among Romans, & Christians were killed by Romans just for being Christians, so she feels like she has to hide her faith. But some of the other characters mention that they see something different about her, a peace, a gentleness, that they want. & you hear that all the time, people saying that before they came to know Jesus, they knew a person that "had something they didn't have." What I've been wondering is, is that in me? Do people see in me a peace & a light & a joy that isn't man made? Does the barista at Starbucks, the checker at the grocery store, the vet notice something different about me? I hope so. I'm seeking the Lord about this, because I want it. I want people to see Him when they see me. I'm so flawed, so human, but God is teaching me that He wants to use me anyway. I don't have to be perfect first. That is hard for me to accept, but I pray that He uses me.

I think it's time for some cinnamon toast & coffee. Yum.

C

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pardon me, may I borrow your binoculars?

Life is starting to slow down! Phew. We have had some fun adventures, but I'm glad for my normal routine to be back & for us to have some chill time.

On Good Friday Josh & I had our second annual Riverwalk day! We started out with breakfast (at 11:30) at the Guenther House; it was built in the late 1800's by the founders of the Pioneer Flour Mills, & is part museum, part restaurant. It has yummy breakfast, AND gives you fluffy biscuits & blueberry muffins before your meal! That alone won me over. Everyone should go.

We walked around the Riverwalk & checked out every menu to decide where we wanted to eat dinner, & picked a Mexican food restaurant - & afterwards, bought some chewy Rolaids & vowed never again to eat Mexican food (& inevitably found ourselves at a Mexican food restaurant the next evening with my dad - but I had the comparably healthy fajitas so my tummy didn't revolt), ate a caramel apple, then went to see Phantom of the Opera! So good. I love going to the theater. As with all events we attend, we bought the cheapest tickets available - & ended up sitting against the back wall! This is the second time that has happened to us (first time was at the rodeo) & Josh actually said, yes he REALLY said, "Next time, buy the second-cheapest tickets." It was a really good show & I recommend it.

Back to chewy Rolaids, Josh & I really like them. The cherry kind, not the vanilla kind. They are like candy, with a bad aftertaste (but if you keep eating them you won't experience the aftertaste! Just kidding, don't do that.)

Saturday we went to Austin to go out on the boat so Josh could learn how to drive it properly. The weather was really nice, altho when we stopped moving I had to take my jacket off because the sun was so warm, but when we got going the wind made it so cold I had to put the jacket back on & still had goosebumps. I'm looking forward to relaxing summer days, floating in the lake.

So after those events & Disney World, we are finally back to normality. Cleaning, laundry, work, cooking dinner, etc.

This weekend we are headed to College Station for the last time in who knows how long. Most of our friends graduate in May or August, so there will be little reason to visit after this time, so I don't know when we will be back. Sad. That being said, I will have about 6 java shakes. Maybe that's an exaggeration. But at LEAST two.

I'm off to clean out the kitty litter box! Whoo ya.

C

Thursday, March 20, 2008

juice & Disney World

I'm pretty simple when it comes to what I buy to drink around the house. Water, Diet Coke, orange juice, & coffee. But I have really enjoyed the Pomegranate Blueberry V8 Fusion lately. I was disappointed with the strawberry banana, it seemed too watery to me, but the pom-blu is a good flavor, plus it's healthy! I'm pretty picky about my veggies so this is a good way for me to get those veggie nutrients.

We got back from Disney World on Tuesday! It was so fun, I just love going there, & I was so sad to leave. That place just makes you happy. Magic Kingdom is my favorite of course, & we went to Hollywood Studios & Epcot as well. Here are a couple pictures.

Beautiful Cinderella Castle


Joshie & I in front of the Epcot ball



The Disney princesses dancing around in front of the castle



That's all for now. Josh & I are going to take Sage to the dog park then get Enchanted to watch! & tomorrow is our annual fun day... I'll tell you about it next week!

C