Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Panoramas and Other Fun

Saturday I got to have a date with this handsome fellow! No, he's not here... but we have been getting creative and having Skype dates. Daniel was super cute and sent me an itinerary for our date because he knows how I like to have things planned out. So anyway, we got all dressed up and it sure was fun!

The Dinner:

I made a wonderful homemade pizza! It was a combination of two recipes. I made the pizza dough from this recipe (I halved it). On top of the rolled out dough, I put kale and balsamic vinegar. Then I added loads of mozzarella cheese and sliced sweet potato and onion roasted in olive oil.  Mmmm it sure was good... didn't even taste like it was covered in gross veggies! (;

The Outfits:
Both of us were home alone so we didn't have someone to take pictures of our outfits... here is our best attempt at a selfie. Please remind me to not do it again.

I am soo amused by this. Daniel was very proud that he found a way to take a selfie of his whole outfit... and this is what he sent me.  Very flattering, obviously. #panoramaselfie

I'm not sure which is more embarrassing, mirror or panorama selfies. The moral
of this story is that we should not be left alone to take pictures. But it's proof that we dressed up!

The Game:
We played this fun game for a while! Daniel found a website that has fun things to do for long distance relationships and this was a fun one. Bagged Who Thief Huge Her?

The Movie:
Radio! Ahh, it's such a tearjerker but I love it.  Getting our movies synchronized takes a while, but it's pretty fun to watch "together."

The Bible Readings:
As usual, we did the daily Bible readings and talked about them. Studying God's word together is super great for a relationship!

So while I wish that I could go on real, live dates with Daniel, I thoroughly enjoy our Skype version. I'm just so thankful that technology makes it that we can talk so easily!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kid Friendly

As you might remember, I've been doing a whole lot of babysitting lately (15 hours yesterday!!) and I've been trying to make some healthy, kid friendly meals. These chicken fingers that my mom makes were a real hit yesterday when I fixed them for the boys!  The great thing about them is that you can change up the ingredients easily (we didn't have saltines, so I just used a mixture of other crackers). 

16 saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
6-10 chicken breast tenders
1 egg
Honey-horseradish dip

Stir together first 5 ingredients.  Whisk egg and dip chicken strips in egg, then saltine mixture.  Place on a sprayed broiler pan.  Cook 20 minutes on 425.

Honey-horseradish dip

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 TBSP horseradish

Mix all ingredients.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Like A Girl

I started noticing it a few years ago. I had never realized that being a girl was used as an insult. I started noticing that friends would use it if they thought the other one was doing something dumb. 

Stop being a girl... 

Guys tell each other that. Girls even tell each other that. Basically, if you are doing something stupid, something wrong, something weak, you are told you are "being a girl." The thing is, I am a girl. I do everything like a girl and I don't think that means I am an airhead, bad at running, of interior intelligence, etc.

It's really sad because it makes us think that girls as a whole are not so great. Sure, we respect the women we know personally, but we still put women in this category as a whole. Nowhere in the Bible does God put us in the category. Women like Mary, Sarah, Esther, the virtuous woman, and Ruth are all godly, hard-working, strong, courageous people.  If like a girl means being like that, I'm all in!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

James challenge, part 5

I can hardly believe that we are almost finished with James. I am genuinely sad that this book is so short. Not that I don't love the whole Bible, but James is a book I really relate to and is probably the one that I use the most in my own personal growth.  So without further ado, James 5...

Verses 1-6:
It seems that James harshly speaks to rich people. I think we can safely assume that he isn't speaking to all rich people, but rather those who have taken pride in their riches. Like it says in verse 5, there are some that use their riches to indulge themselves and oppress others.  I think it is safe to say that James is rebuking those who live without care for others.  

Verses 7-12:
The believers were withstanding great persecutions at this time. As we know from reading the gospels, many believers also thought that the setup of the Kingdom was right around the corner. And it is... to God. To us mortals, though, it seems awfully long it coming.  James encourages the believers to stand firm.  Life was hard for them, and it might be for us too, but remember that the Lord is faithful.  

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years , and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish ,but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

It may be slow, but God has a purpose for that "slowness." He is doing it for the benefit of us! And when I think of all that others have had to suffer for their beliefs, I don't think we have it bad at all.  Sadly, this may have the opposite effect and allow us to become complacent instead of longing for our Lord Jesus to return. 

For those who were going through great persecutions, James reminds them of the prophets (such as Daniel and Jeremiah) who had suffered greatly before them. If they can endure, then so can we all. 

I always thought the part about not swearing by heaven or earth seemed randomly placed, but I think it is actually referring to this same idea of not being able to control when things happen. Therefore, we should take care because you never know when something will happen that is outside of your control. You don't want to be making promises that you are not going to be able to keep.

Verses 13-20
James reminds us of the importance of turning to God! In good times and bad. Sometimes, that's the last place we turn, and then only when we can't figure out things on our own.  But as we grow, we learn more and more to turn to God first in our joy AND in our sorrow.

There is also something to be said for confessing your faults to another person. It can be a humbling experience, but also renewing. I think when I share my failures with another, it helps me realize the gravity of my sin, and to pray for forgiveness. It also helps others to realize that we are all in the same boat, so to speak. Sometimes I feel like I am the worst sinner out there, but it is relieving to know that everyone messes up but that there is still forgiveness! Praise our loving Father!

These verses about Elijah are pretty amazing. I never really thought about the phrase "Elijah is a man just like us" until I heard some classes on Elijah. The speaker pointed out that it truly means Elijah was LIKE US. So often, I look at characters in the Bible and think they have some kind of superhuman faith. But they don't, and we can see that in Elijah. Elijah was a passionate man.  He got afraid. He got angry. He pouted. He ran from God. But in the end, he was faithful. God understood Elijah's weaknesses, and He was still with him. God understands ours too! 

Lastly, James points out the magnitude of saving someone spiritually. It's wonderful to save someone's life by preventing them from getting hit by a car or performing the Heimlich maneuver, but this life is only temporary. How much greater to save someone spiritually by giving them a hope for eternal life! Like the angels who rejoiced over the one found sheep, we should be seeking that ALL should come to a knowledge of our God.

I hope that you have enjoyed these devotions on James. If you missed one, here are links to each chapter. Have a joyful day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dog Fun

Last week was a busy week for me, working 10 hour days caring for two boys! Let's just say that I am glad that I'm not a parent (I do enjoy watching them but it is a tiring job!).  After what happened on Friday, I'm even more glad I don't have a dog.

I had forgotten my time card at home, so my mom said she would bring it by when she went to the store.  Bella, the dog, normally lays around the house. In fact, I have difficulty even getting her outside to use the bathroom.  When my mom came by, I opened the door and we talked for a moment.... and there goes the dog.  Bella runs full speed outside.  Sooo not expected! My mom and I walk to the front yard, where Bella is proceeding to pee everywhere. I call her over and over, but every time we get closer to her, she runs farther down the street, peeing on all the neighbor's yards.

They live in a gated community, right next to a busy four-lane street.  We knew that we had to keep her from going out of the gate, so my mom ran down to the gate, to be there if Bella ran down there. Of course, she did, and there was no way my mom could stop her.

Now we have a dog that is running back and forth across a busy street.  I am freaking out completely. I can't believe this is happening! This dog is going to get hit by a car and it will be my fault! A lady stopped and tried to help us by offering Bella treats. She kept running. Cars were stopping as my mom and I ran back and forth across the street, calling Bella. Please, dog, I'm begging you.

At this point, my poor mom had kicked off her sandals and was running uphill on burning hot asphalt. I was sweating and wondering if I should go back to the house (where the boys were still sitting) but I knew if I left now, I'd likely never see Bella again. Although it felt like an eternity, it had only be a few minutes. Just when I was about to go back, a man stopped, opened his door, and Bella jumped in. I was so relieved that carrying a 40 pound dog home felt easy.

Just kidding, it was incredibly hard to carry her but there was no way I was putting that dog down.

NEVER again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

James challenge, Part 4

Happy Thursday! Hope you are all having a wonderful week. I am happy because I've been babysitting every day this week, and it's been good. Ready for James 4? I am!!

Verses 1-12
I think one of the key phrases here is "submit yourselves to God." When we realize how small we are, we won't be proud in our own strengths. It will humble us. I think that many of our failings in life probably have to do with our pride. For example, when we covet something it seems to me that we are thinking that we should have what others have because we deserve it!  Jesus tell us that we will receive what we ask for in his name, and so James points out. However, he reminds us that it must be done from pure motives. We cannot expect our Father to grant our every selfish whim. So when we submit to the Father, He really will grant our prayers because we will be asking for what HE wants. 

There are really only two choices: friend of God or friend of the world. James warns us that being a friend of the world means being an enemy of God. That's scary! I sure don't want to be an enemy of our all-powerful God. I want to be like Abraham, who was called a friend of God. Right before he is called a friend of God in James 2, it says that Abraham BELIEVED God. So our belief and submission to Him must be what makes us His friend.

When James touches on gossiping about people, I think the same idea of pride still rings true. The reason we put others down is because it makes us feel built up. If someone is doing something wrong, we can take pride in the fact that we aren't! Trust me, you've failed where someone else hasn't, so be careful with your words. Who are we to judge another? Rather, humble yourself before God and realize that you are flawed as well. He will carry us through His grace.

Lastly, I LOVE the idea that when we draw nigh to God, He draws nigh to us! How beautiful. As I mentioned here, the idea of God being like the sun, never changing, is powerful to me. The heat and light we receive from it depend on OUR position. When we push God away, He doesn't move-- we do.

Verses 13-17
Again, the theme here is submitting to the Lord. If we do, we realize that all plans are subject to His will. We can't ever say for sure WHAT will happen, but we do know that God will faithfully work things out so that His will is accomplished. Sometimes that's so much easier to say than live. But we need to acknowledge that even though it feels like we have some measure of control over what happens in our life, we don't really. God does. I don't think it necessarily means tacking a "God willing" at the end of every sentence we say about our plans, but it does mean that we recognize Him as the real source of authority. He makes the plans, not us.  Thankfully, He ALWAYS knows what is in our best interest, so much better than we do ourselves! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Photo Organization

I've spent the past couple weeks trying to organize our family's closets full of stuff! It's a work in progress but I'm pleased with the results so far. One of the most difficult things was tackling the photos in the upstairs closet. We have literally thousands of photos, many in photo albums, but also a lot that are just lying around.  It took a while (and several trips to the store) to figure out how to neatly organize them but I think it turned out nicely!

First off-- here is just a small sampling of the frames we had laying around in the closet. They all held pictures but we already have a house full of pictures so there was nowhere else to hang them! I decided to remove all the pictures and organize them more neatly.

Here are the two photo shelves in the closet! The colored bins have our photo albums in order by year.

I bought these cute boxes at Michaels! My mom has a lot of little things from each of us kids-- hospital bracelets, baby cards, etc, so I thought she could have a "memory box" for each of us.

Ok, isn't this the most wonderful thing you have ever seen?? After many trips to the store to get different boxes (that didn't work!), I found this gem. It is so awesome because I was able to put all the random photos that weren't in our albums into it. 

However, I found that we had lots of pictures that were larger than 4x6, like professional and school photos. I got this giant box and a bunch of 12x12 folders and once again labeled them with our names.  It looks so much better!

Hope some of these ideas inspired you to go get organized! (:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Short and Sweet

I've been a little desperate to get a job this summer. Once I start school in the fall, I wasn't sure I would be able to get a job that works around my odd hours so I wanted to work as much as possible this summer. Turns out that wasn't the plan for me, and I never did find a full time summer position. A couple weeks ago I was looking on Care.com (which is the place I find nanny jobs) and I noticed that some people were looking for housecleaners. I was super excited because... duh, I love to clean. I mean I know that this is a weird thing to love, but I really can get into the groove cleaning. I thought maybe I could get a couple gigs that I could do weekly that would work around my school hours and bring in a little money.

Sooo I applied for a few jobs on Care.com and the next day a lady called me and asked me to come over and see what she wanted for me to do.  I did, and found that she was crazy.  Just kidding. However, she did want me to clean her entire house in 2 hours. Her house is admittedly a little small, but still.  So I said I would try and I started my job on Friday. There were two showers and they were absolutely filthy so it took forever to do that. It was a very stressful time and in the end, it took me 3 hours. However, at the end of the day she called me (she had been at work when I was there) and said she was very impressed and that she would give me 3 hours to clean in the future. Phew!

Anyway, the very day that I started my housecleaning "job", a lady called me and asked if I would want to watch her sons full time for three weeks during the summer. She wanted some help in the fall too and was willing to work around my school hours. Even though it wasn't the full summer job I wanted, I figured it was better than housecleaning for 3 hours a week. I'm starting that job next week and since it's full time I won't be able to clean the lady's house anymore.  Goodbye... to the shortest career ever!

Oh, and something I seriously don't get. If you had the luxury of having someone else clean your house, why would you leave all your dirty clothes lying out? Especially if you give them a time limit. I mean, honestly. It seems like you would want them to actually spend the whole time doing actual cleaning instead of picking up your dirty underwear.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

James Challenge, part 3

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope you are enjoying a fabulous week. I know I am! I am loving this week and the delightful summer nights, one of my favorite things ever.  Are you ready for James 3? James 3 is a lesson I really, REALLY need to learn... controlling the tongue.

James 3

Verses 1-12
It's amazing, isn't it, how the tongue is such a powerful thing? We let is take over and control our lives. James says we let  it "boast" and it's so true! Our tongue is what says it will do things, but it really is our other body parts that accomplish the task. For example, it is our tongue that might brag about how we can run a marathon, but it's our legs that actually do it! Hopefully we aren't the tongue in our own churches, boasting of things that we leave for others to do.
"But I tell you that men will have to give account of the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."  Matthew 12:36-37

The things we say are so powerful and they DO matter.  Often I forget how much they matter. We can do great good or great harm with our words. We can build people up and we can tear them down. It's scary because I, and others, often don't realize the destructive power of the tongue. The things that fly out of our mouths without thought can never be retrieved.  

Verses 13-18
But it's not just our words that matter. James says that if we are wise, we will show it in our good lives. However, if we (unwisely) have selfishness in our hearts, it will be manifest in our life. We can try to boast that we are wise, but our life will reveal otherwise.

Think about all the things James lists as aspects of wisdom: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, fruitful, impartial, and sincere.  These are usually not considered to be virtues in our society!! They are often belittled along with those who practice them. But God tells us to "sow in peace" to "raise a harvest of righteousness!"

Choose to do it God's way!