Monday, March 30, 2015

Is Spring Break Over Already?

Spring Break is over... I don't think I've ever been so glad for a break. Spring semester is definitely much better than fall semester because of the fact we get a week-long break! I wouldn't say I did anything too exciting but I did enjoy relaxing. I got most of my Spring Break "list" done too.

Now it's back to tests, early mornings, and long days. Oh well, here's to a Spring Break full of happy times:


Went to a Dan + Shay concert with Bekka and Jess. If you haven't heard of them, they are a fairly new country duo. I think I would have really enjoyed it if my feet/knees/hips/everything hadn't been so dang sore for standing for 3+ hours. Really, who can stand that long? Plus the annoying middle-aged couple who was determined to push me over or knock me to the ground. Not really sure. But even with a lot of dirty looks from me, they continued to plow their way through the audience, all... night... long.



Got organized! For you organization lovers out there, you know how I feel. My pictures file on my computer and my file cabinet have been driving me bonkers, but with school I haven't had the time to get them organized. First thing on Monday I got them organized. Yay!



Ahh, trying to be cool and take a selfie but it seems to have misfired. You can see my arms in both of our sunglasses! ha!
Love them
Went fishing with my favorite husband and some of my favorite kiddos. Little did I know that there was hiking involved in a fishing experience, but now I know not to wear sandals next time. Oh, and did you know you literally have to sit there for hoooouuuurs to catch a fish? Now I know that, too. Thank goodness for the pretty scenery and the good company.


Finished this book that I have been reading a while. I will admit that I didn't realize until I had started the book that it was for men, but it was so interesting that I just kept reading. My brothers think it's hilarious that I was reading a book by Tony Dungy (an NFL coach, if you are clueless like myself), but I thought he had a lot of great things to say. Now let me just try to convince every guy I know to read this book. 


Bike riding with Bekka! After a few minor mishaps with prisoners (jokes), we are safe and sound. The trail along the river is absolutely stunning and the weather was a perfect 75 degrees. Love, love, love. 



Massage from my super thoughtful husband who surprised me by scheduling one! Wow, what a treat. 



Oh, and I finallyyyyy printed out our wedding pictures! Now I just have to wait until my next break to scrapbook them. One step of the way (:

Got a new blog layout. Man, oh man, it was a lot of confusing work for someone technologically challenged like me, but it's coming. I still have a bit of work to do but hopefully it will be finished soon! 

Besides that, I just enjoyed soaking up every second of freedom with my family and friends. I can sure give thanks for that!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Life, Blurred

As we grow older, we realize that life isn't always black and white. 

Things aren't always as they seem. 

The world isn't fair and justice doesn't often occur.

Good people have very bad events happen to them. People who are trying to do the right thing are frequently punished for it.

Faithful people sometimes turn out to be not-so-faithful.

Parents aren't and never were perfect people. Teachers aren't always very smart.

The ones you love can hurt you. Sometimes those who are supposed to be honest with us hide the truth to protect us.

The guilty person doesn't always get punished.

We have to forgive those who don't deserve to be forgiven.

Sometimes there is no "right" answer.

God can't be "proved" to an atheist determined not to believe.

Life is blurry and messy... does that make you bitter? Or does it make you better?



It can be a hard pill to swallow-- but I think it's a lesson God has to teach us. If this world were perfect, if everything was right and good and just, there would be no need for hope. 

Hope on, my friend, for a far better life is to come. 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tomato Soup Mac-n-Cheese

This here falls into one of my two favorite food groups: cheese. Pasta that is extra-cheesy, delicious, easy, delicious... did I mention delicious? I changed this recipe up a bit from the original but next time I would like to add some pecorino romano cheese to add some zest, so I would suggest adding some of that. Or basically any kind of cheese that you would like to add!



1/2 pound whole wheat macaroni (or other pasta)
5 oz ricotta cheese
5 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 10-oz can tomato soup
10-oz fat free milk

Cook pasta and preheat oven to 350. Put ricotta cheese in an 8x8 baking dish and cover with hot pasta. Add soup, milk and cheese and stir together. Bake for 30 minutes. Add extra cheese to the top and broil 2-3 minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ruth-- A Virtuous Woman

Today I am sharing characteristics of another virtuous woman-- Ruth.  If you would like to read part 1 about Abigail, go here. Once again, to get the most out of it, go read the book of Ruth first... it's a short 4 chapters (:



Ruth was kind

Naomi praises both Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, for treating her and her family with kindness. As we know, kindness is one of the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5. Naomi and her family were strangers in Ruth's homeland of Moab, yet they were treated with kindness by Ruth. 

Ruth was devoted 

To God, and to her mother-in-law, Naomi. In the beautiful and famous words, Ruth says to Naomi: "Where you go I will, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." Ruth was leaving behind everything... her land, her family, the gods of Moab. She knew that both she and Naomi would be poor in Israel because they had no husbands to support them. However, she knew something far more wonderful was ahead. She knew that her old life held nothing for her. 

Ruth was a hard worker

She wastes no time once she and Naomi arrive in Israel. Under the law of Moses, they were allowed to go through the fields and pick up grain that had been missed. She goes to the field of their relative, Boaz, and begins to gather grain. Boaz and his workers are impressed by her and comment on how she gathered steadily all day. She knows that she has to care for Naomi and she does not shy away from the task. This care and hard work attracts the affection of Boaz, who was himself a spiritual man.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. -Proverbs 31:11-12

Ruth was obedient

I can't say that I really understand the process Naomi tells Ruth to go through, but whatever the reasons, Ruth obeys. She could have said that she wanted to make her own decisions about who she would marry, but she doesn't. She realizes the wisdom of Naomi and follows her advice. Boaz appears to have been an older man, but she doesn't care about that. What she does care about is Boaz's heart for God. 

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. -Proverbs 31:30

One last thing to note is that Ruth was in the line of David, and therefore of Christ. I know this isn't a characteristic, but still amazing that God chose a woman from Moab to be in the line of His Son. She must have been a very special woman indeed. 

What virtuous woman do you aspire to be like?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best-Ever Granola

There are tons of granola recipes out there that are the "best", but this one is sure delicious. I don't usually like granola much so this one my mom adapted from our church cookbook seems extra special. I like to eat it for a snack in the afternoons. Enjoy!



4 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/8 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300. Mix oats, flax seed, almonds, coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix oils, honey, syrup, vanilla and almond extract and pour over oats. Spread mixture over a large baking sheet and bake 40 minutes. Once cooled, break up granola and mix in dried fruit. Make sure to store it in an airtight container!

Friday, March 13, 2015

What If We Weren't?


What if we weren't meant to stay in our comfort zone?

What if we weren't meant to live the American dream? To have the biggest house, a pool and 2.5 children?

What if we weren't meant to have the fanciest car?

What if we weren't meant to settle for this life?

What if we weren't meant to just read the Bible a few minutes every day and show up for church on Sunday morning?

What if we weren't meant to constantly desire what we do not have? What if we weren't meant to buy whatever our heart desires?

What if we weren't meant to go to college, snag a financially secure job, and live out the rest of our days without worry?

What if we WERE meant to step out of our comfort zone, to live more simply, to give more and take less?

Jesus didn't call us to a life of luxury and ease. I don't know about you, but my life pretty much qualifies as comfortable. 

I'm scared to step out of that comfort, but I'm even more scared not to.

That's my challenge-- to myself and to you-- to start to move out of your comfort zone and into the life Jesus called us to live. It may be scary, but I think it will be so worth it. Maybe, just maybe, we won't discover our TRUE life until we stop settling for this life.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Abigail-- A Virtuous Woman

As a new wife myself, I find that the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is often on my mind. Not that one has to be married to be a virtuous woman (we know of many a single, virtuous woman!), but I've just been thinking on it more... and man, it sure is hard!

I thought that maybe I would take a few weeks to write about some of the women who inspire me from the Bible. It is uplifting for me to see that they go through struggles that all women face, sometimes they stumble, but in the end they remain virtuous. 

I would say that the woman who inspires me the most from the Bible is Abigail, so I'm going to start with her. I would suggest that you start by reading 1 Samuel 25. 



Abigail was faithful

How difficult it must have been for Abigail to be married to such an unspiritual man. Yet instead of losing her faith, she remains the example of faith to God. We don't know what the circumstances were that led to Abigail's marriage to Nabal-- whether it be a foolish choice of youth, an arranged marriage, or simply that Nabal had grown more foolish over the years. Regardless, Abigail did not let her faithless husband change her fervor for God's will.

Abigail was humble

Despite being the wife of a very rich man, Abigail bows herself down to young David, a poor man and a fugitive. Yet she knew who David was and who David was to become. More than that, she knew the God David served and she was willing to do whatever she could to remind him that killing Nabal was not a godly thing to do. 

She could have called him out for acting wickedly or foolishly, but she doesn't. She begs forgiveness from him even though she had done no wrong. 

She watches over the affairs of her household and
 does not eat the bread of idleness - Proverbs 31:27

Abigail was a hard worker

Just like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Abigail doesn't wait for someone else to do the hard work. She saw that her household was in danger and she does what is needed to protect it. She is willing to do something that was "beneath" her role as a nobleman's wife.

She sets about her work vigorously; 
her arms are strong for her tasks -Proverbs 31:17

Abigail gave openly

Though Nabal refused to give up anything to David and his men, Abigail was more than willing to openly give to David. Not only because of the work he had done for her household, but because she was generous. She knew that everything Nabal had collected was not theirs to keep-- it had been given by God and therefore should be used to do God's work.

She opens her arms to the poor and
 extends her hands to the needy -Proverbs 31:20

Sadly, Nabal was not the righteous companion a woman like Abigail would have wanted. God had a better plan for her-- because of her faith, humility, and desire for His work. We have so much to learn from this wonderful woman!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Light

Light. 


What is light? A wave, a ray, a chance to have vision. A way to see outside of darkness. A wonderful dimension of our lives. On a physical level, it allows us to see what is around us-- the soft smile of a baby, the flowers blooming in spring, the face of your husband. Imagine if we didn't have the gift of light and vision. The world would be a very dark place (not to mention, we would all be dead without the light from the sun!) Since we usually associate light with the sun, the term light often also causes me to think about warmth. We might think of the warm sun as winter melts away (or here in California, never comes) or the salt and sand of the ocean. These are all little things that I think of when I hear the word light.


On a spiritual level, light represents godliness. EnLIGHTenment is what separates us from the darkness, from sin. It is what separates us from the rest of God's creation by allowing us to reason. The light from God's word gives us a moral compass to be able to see what is right from wrong. It gives us vision of what God wants and hopefully lights the path we walk. Without the light from God's word, the world would be a very dark place. Without the light from God's word, we would all be stuck in our sins, without hope. So when I think of light, ultimately I think of HOPE. A vision for the future that is full of the light from God. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Your Best Life

Romans 12 is one of those wonderful, practical chapters of the Bible that I like to read often! I know the post is a bit lengthy, but I thought it most useful to include the Bible verses that I am talking about. 



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (verses 1-2).

What does it mean to offer your bodies as living sacrifices? Under the law of Moses, the animals offered as sacrifices were completely burned up, or consumed, with fire. I think that being a LIVING sacrifice means to be consumed with your calling. It's up to you to ask yourself-- am I one-hundred percent dedicated to God? Does my life line up with His will? Are there areas of my life that I know are displeasing to God but I'd prefer to ignore?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (verses 5-8).

A necessary trait in discipleship is humility. Without it, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to show love to God and to our neighbor. It often comes natural to humans to look down on those who appear "weaker" or less capable. We must catch ourselves and realize that this kind of thinking is completely out of line with God's thinking. Each of us has different gifts, different strengths, different weaknesses. We must not call gifts that are different than ours bad. While not everyone may be living up to their gifts, it is not our job to judge, but to encourage the members of the church. As for us, we are responsible for doing our gifts to the BEST of our abilities.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (verses 9-21).

Are there any more practical verses in the Bible? Paul lays out discipleship in 10 simple verses. But as we know, it's not so simple. True discipleship does not come easily, it does not come naturally, and it certainly does not come without God's help. I wish I could give you the 5 Steps to Perfect Discipleship, but I'm not nearly there myself. As Jesus says, it's easy to love the one who loves you back. It's not so easy to love the one who hurts you, who does evil to you. That is "agape"-- self-sacrificial love. It is a love that is only attained when we love people not because they DESERVE love, but because God has instructed us to love. 

We love because He first loved us.

It cannot come from our own strength, but when we choose to "cling to what is good." When we do so, God finds us and He gives us strength. He knows that we cannot live a life fulfilled without loving others. We are instructed to go out and DO and LOVE. Your best life is lived in the service of others. Become less obsessed with your needs and desires and find joy.

When you put others first, you are in the best place you can be. You are in His arms. He knows our hearts-- surrender to His instructions and find yourself fulfilled, overcome with His love, overflowing with joy

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Hubs Has a Birthday

It was Daniel's 29th birthday on Saturday, so we made a weekend out of it! We kicked his birthday off Friday night by eating one of his favorites... rice pudding (recipe here)! 

Saturday we were supposed to have a picnic but the weather wasn't nice so I improvised with indoor camping. It was pretty fun! We ate a picnic, opened gifts and watched Back to the Future. I made pasta salad, smoothies and sandwiches. I thought the sandwiches were really yummy... sourdough bread grilled with fresh mozzerella, provolone cheese, tomato slices and pesto. 


For dinner on Saturday, Daniel requested that my mom make Thai Chicken, one of his favorites. She also surprised him with another dessert, blueberry pie! He enjoyed our family tradition of opening his gifts and eating pie, while having the Happy Birthday song sung to him (very slowly and off-key).


Thai Chicken 
Haha... 8+1= 9



Sunday evening we celebrated with friends! I made nachos and strawberry trifle. He loves to play games so we enjoyed Settlers of Catan and Poop Smoothie (don't ask! haha..) 


Presents!

Daniel in his zone... playing Settlers of Catan


All in all, I thought it was a nice birthday weekend.