Monday, October 28, 2013

cranberry pear crisp

Hello friends! I hope that your Monday is going well! We got in late last night after a weekend trip home to Kentucky. It was so nice to visit with our parents, family, and friends. Saturday was Dustin's 27th birthday-- what a blessing he is to so many, especially me. We made sure to celebrate his day with some of his favorite things: Cornfields, Camo, Carhartts, and his dog Cabela. The Curtsingers like their C's y'all! All in all, I think it is safe to say he enjoyed his day! 

The time always passes so quickly when we are home but we try our best to soak up every moment. I know that technology and social media can be frivolous at times, but I am so thankful for ways to document and remember these special moments. I am so glad to have photos of special people, places, and things in my life. I also love being able to connect with people via social media and see the things in their life that bring them joy. Whether it is a recipe, a new accessory, a sweet baby, a great test score, a baseball game, a new verse that speaks to them, a loved one, a fresh bouquet of flowers, a deal at the thrift store, a beautiful view, a cute puppy, a cup of Starbucks- whatever it is, social media allows us to display what we value in our lives. You can learn a lot about a person based on their posts and photos. I try to keep that in mind when I post something. Ultimately, I want my life to be an overflow of the love Christ gives to me. I want to be living a life full of thankfulness. Lately, I have been trying to think of photos as the way to capture the gifts we are given. I used to not care for photos-- I liked to look at them,  but not really take them or be in them. Now, as I try to soak up every moment and gift, I catch myself reaching for my camera more and more. I don't want to forget the way the sun looked shining through the trees. Or how beautifully the dish was prepared. Or even the seemingly mundane tasks such as washing the dishes or doing the laundry. There is beauty all around us. We just have to open our hearts and eyes to receive and see it. 

Dustin's Nana loaded us up with some fresh pears before we left home. I wanted to use them in a recipe this time, rather than just eating them plain. Cobblers, crisps, and crumbles are my favorite ways to prepare fruit besides eating it fresh. I love the rustic coziness to them, as well as the simplicity. I decided to throw in some dried cranberries for extra flavor and a pop of color. I was pleased with how this recipe turned out! I basically combined ingredients I had on hand, so the ingredient amounts are estimated. I intended for it to be a bit more crumbly rather than crispy but I still enjoyed it. The natural sweetness of the pears with the mild tartness of the cranberries was a great combination. I could eat the crispy topping all by itself! 

Cranberry Pear Crisp 
5-7 small pears, peeled and sliced
2 handfuls of dried cranberries
1 handful of chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, macadamia) 
3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg
dash of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
juice from 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 375*. Place pears and cranberries in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Squeeze lemon over the fruit and toss to fully coat in the juice. Combine flour, oats, nuts, and spices in a separate bowl. Stir in melted oil or butter and syrup. Spread the topping over the fruit. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and fruit is tender. 

Notes: I love simple, tasty recipes. Next time I may increase the amount of oats in the topping just to make it a bit more crumbly. Also, feel free to use apples or any other fruit that you enjoy. Your house will smell heavenly as this bakes in the oven! Enjoy!

Have a blessed day! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

the library & a must-read

If you've read any of my previous posts, or know me personally, you know I love to read. As a little girl, (& still today) Beauty and the Beast was quite possibly my favorite Disney movie simply because I felt that Belle and I were kindred spirits with our love for books and reading. I have to admit that I am also partial to Cinderella. And Ariel. And Aurora. Ok, I love all of the Disney Princesses. But, especially Belle. One of my favorite parts of the whole movie is when the Beast gives Belle the library. It is breathtaking. Y'all know what I'm talking about right!? 

via pinterest

I realize that a library, especially of this magnitude, is not realistic or practical but it is still fun to pretend right!? Since a ginormous library will most likely definitely not make the cut in any home we buy, I am perfectly content with filling bookshelves and even decorating with the books that we (& our family members) have collected over the years. Along with reading the books, I enjoy displaying them. I love the different colors, shapes, sizes, and typography. 

Since reading is something I really enjoy doing in my free time, I thought it might be fun to make a new series or section of my blog called "The Library." In this section, I plan to include a running list of books that I hope to read as well as reviews (of sorts) of books that I have recently finished. That way, I can remember what I have read and also what is next on my list! I always enjoy reading reviews and I hope you do too. I downloaded the "goodreads" app back in the summer but I have not been consistent with keeping my list updated. I am thinking the blog will be a better way to consolidate that information. I love hearing back from readers, so if you have any must-reads, please let me know! I would love for this to be interactive, let me know your thoughts and feelings on the the books and share what you learned! 

I could not wait to post about the book I have recently read. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about the book from close friends and even total strangers. When one of my sister-friends, Violet sent me the book in the mail, I excitedly put it in my stack of books to read. Not long after, in an email conversation with the lovely Katie at Katie O'Keefe Blog, she also raved about the book. It was one of those moments when I knew God was telling me to take the hint! I finally picked up Love Does by Bob Goff this weekend and y'all, you must read it. It is one of those life changing, eye opening books. Seriously, it is. Bob has mastered the art of discovering a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world. The reason behind it all: love. The selfless, engaged kind of love that takes action, or does. From pursuing his wife to giving a friend with cancer a dream vacation, Bob gives glimpses into his life of love in action in each meaningful chapter. Not only that, he ties each lesson in with Scripture. I laughed out loud (literally) while reading some chapters and shed several tears while reading others. I really enjoyed the beginning of each chapter because he included a phrase that followed the pattern of "I used to think (fill in the blank), but now I know (blank)." Each one is so packed with truth. I had to write them down. One of my favorites--however, it was difficult to narrow down a favorite out of 31--is "I used to think there were some prisons you couldn't escape, but now I know there's no place I can go where God can't rescue us." Each one is just as amazing. Bob credits these paradigm shifts 100% to following Jesus and it is so evident in the "doing" described in his writing. I could share quote after quote that spoke to me so deeply, but then I would have re-typed 99% of the book. So read it for yourselves!  

God's timing never ceases to amaze me. He blows my mind on the daily. This book was recommended to me weeks ago. Just last week I began the study of the book of James with She Reads Truth. This week the verse to meditate on was verse 22 of the first chapter which reads: 

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."

How perfect is that timing? Only He could do that. Only He could time it that I begin a book entitled Love Does and then give a verse in a study that commands that we be doers of the Word. I get chills every time I think about it. My prayer is that I take this lesson to heart and put it into action. I pray this for you as well. 

I'm so looking forward to sharing more books in "The Library" the future! I may also give reviews of some books I have read in the past as well. One that you will for sure be hearing about is called The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, which I am currently reading with my dear friend Kirby. Oh the knowledge we are gaining as young wives from this practical, Biblically based book! Can't wait to share! Also, be sure to check out her blog! Sister. Can. Write. Plus, she knows about all things agriculture, professional, and Southern. I know you'll love her! 

I hope y'all enjoy The Library! Come back anytime!
Let's be doers of the Word and show the world that love does. 

Have a wonderful day, y'all!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"fancy beef" aka beef bourguignon

Happy Sunday y'all! I hope you are having a restful day. It is a beautiful fall day in the Land of Lincoln! As I type this, I can hear neighbors down the street mowing their lawns. The sun is shining and the air is cool. Our pups have enjoyed running around in the yard for most of the day so far. We started the morning with a great worship service and sermon about prayer at church. Then, I started on a lunch that I was so excited to share. After lunch, I gave Dustin a haircut on our back porch-- I am actually getting better at it! (While we were dating I may or may not have terribly messed up his haircut. Twice. Both before weddings he was either a part of or attending.) Overall, we have had a restful, productive weekend. Isn't it nice to mark things off of your to-do list? I feel like God has given me a desire to share more on this blog of what He has been teaching me lately, but I also want to continue to share recipes that are favorites in our household and some of our everyday happenings!

It has been a while since I have posted a recipe so when I finally tackled this once, I knew I wanted to share it! Beef Bourguignon is another one of those recipes that has been on my "to-try" list for a while. Now I have to say right off the bat, I cannot pronounce "bourguignon" to save my life. I took Spanish in high school, not French. My tongue gets tied with all the g's, u's, and n's. Dustin kept asking me what I was planning to cook, and after stuttering through "Beef Bourguignon" I finally gave up and said "We are having Fancy Beef!" Not only is Fancy Beef easier to say, it is easier to spell! Julia Child, Ina Garten, and other past and present culinary superstars are probably shaking their heads at me, but I'm sorry, Fancy Beef is what it is!

I had Fancy Beef for the first time a few years ago in college. My friend Alex made his version of the rich, French stew and it was delicious, as are all of his culinary creations. If you're not familiar with Fancy Beef, it is like a dressed up version of the classic roast, carrots, and potatoes. Alex served his on mashed potatoes, as I did today. Ina's recipe, which is the one I followed, calls for French bread instead of potatoes. You could do whatever sounds best to you! Roast, carrots, and potatoes is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the combination. This is basically the same thing just a bit fancier-- wine as an ingredient makes it fancy to me!

Unless you have extra time on your hands during the week, or maybe have more experience in the kitchen, I would recommend saving this recipe for a weekend meal. It made a delicious Sunday afternoon lunch for us. There is a bit of prep, several steps, and it cooks for over an hour but it is so worth it! I do hope you will try it, even if a longer list of ingredients and directions is daunting. For me, chopping, stirring, and experimenting in the kitchen is therapeutic so I don't mind. A fun part about this recipe that will excite the guys in your life, is that you have to light it on fire to cook off the alcohol! I'm not gonna lie, I was kinda scared! I made sure to bring Dustin into the kitchen for that part. I think he was impressed. The cooking times and steps allow for cleaning as you go, which is a bonus in my book! While the carrots and onions were browning, I was able to wash some of my cutting boards and knives. While the stew was cooking in the oven, I was able to clean the whole kitchen! I followed Ina Garten's recipe for the most part. Of course, I put my own spin on it per usual.

"Fancy Beef"
aka Beef Bourguignon

8-10 ounces of thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound bag frozen diced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup cognac
1 (750 ml) bottle pinot noir, or any dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
3 tablespoons gluten free flour
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 250*. Lightly brown the bacon in a large oven-safe pot or dutch oven for about 10 minutes. Once lightly brown, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate. Salt and pepper the beef that has been blotted dry with a paper towel. Add the beef in batches in a single layer in the bottom of the pot. Sear on all sides for 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Place beef with bacon on the plate for later. Add the carrots and 3/4 of the bag of onions to the pot, along with about a tablespoon of salt and two teaspoons of pepper. Cook in the meat juices for about 10-15 minutes until the onions are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Turn down the heat to low. Pour in the cognac, stand back, light with a match or lighter, and allow alcohol to burn away. Once the flame disappears, add back the bacon and beef. Pour in the bottle of wine and about 2 cups of the beef broth, or until the beef is almost covered. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the preheated oven for an hour and fifteen minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Combine 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons butter until blended well. Stir into the stew. With ten minutes or so left in the cooking time, sauté the mushrooms for 10 minutes in 2 tablespoons of butter and add to the stew. Bring stew to a boil on top of the stove for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes or bread. 

Notes: I poured off some of (not all) the fat/meat juices before adding the carrots and onions. Ina's recipe calls for more onions to be added with the mushrooms but I felt like 3/4 the bag was plenty for our taste. Also, I  used about a teaspoon or two of salt rather than a tablespoon of salt. I try to avoid adding extra sodium in our diet and will usually decrease the amount in any recipe. I kept the mashed potatoes pretty basic and not overly seasoned because of the richness of the stew. We really enjoyed this recipe. It is super filling-- just one serving and we were satisfied. Also, there are plenty of leftovers! 

I hope y'all try and enjoy Fancy Beef! If you do, let me know what you think!

It is a very warm and cozy meal to have on a cool, slow Sunday afternoon! 

Have a blessed Sabbath! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

channeling my inner laura ingalls wilder.

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."
{Laura Ingalls Wilder}

I have posted before about the books in the Little House series being my favorites as a child. To be honest, they still are. I even love the television show that comes on the Hallmark channel. I think it is the simplicity and purity of the story that captured my heart as a child and continues to do so as an adult. The wholesome goodness. Yes, of course there is mean ol' Nellie Oleson, but overall the storyline is definitely not one that would make you feel guilty for watching or reading. 

I have always felt torn between being a "city" girl and a "country" girl. I grew up spending a lot of time at my Nana's house where she let me bring young chickens in her house, play in the mud with the ducks, catch minnows in her pond, and chase the mice in the feed bins. Basically, she let me do everything my prim and proper momma would not. Now, I love my pearl wearing, pink loving, sweet talking momma. She definitely raised me with an affection for sparkly, clean, pretty things. Thanks to her, I feel naked without my pearl earrings on or my nails painted. She and I have almost always lived "in town" and I always went to the "city" school. Of course by city school, I mean a 1A school in a town with a census of approximately 10,000. We did live in Brentwood, Tennessee for a year, so I have briefly experienced true "city" living. Despite living in the city limits for most of my life, I have always been drawn to the country-- the farms, clothes lines, gardens, and open spaces. 

I think I loved the Little House books as a child so much because I was able to live Laura's life with her-- her chores, her schoolwork, her dreams --whether she was in the Big Woods or on the Prairie. More than anything, I appreciated the little details that were included. The colors, the sights, the smells, the textures, the emotions, the relationships. Even today, I find myself appreciating the little things more. Especially those with family members. 

This weekend, I mentioned to Dustin's Nana that I wanted her to teach me how to crochet someday. She makes the sweetest pot holders and dish rags that fill kitchen drawers of each of her family members. She recently started making the cutest coffee mug sweaters. Well, before I could blink, she was up from her chair finding me a crochet hook and a ball of red yarn. She had me follow her into their living room and sit beside her on the couch as she showed me over and over how to do a basic chain stitch. Once I somewhat had it down, she gave me the assignment of practicing daily. She said that she would teach me another stitch the next time we see each other. It may seem like a meaningless, simple moment to some, but it was so special to me. Not only did she teach me something I had been wanting to learn, she made me feel so important by teaching me right then, as soon as I asked. I have been practicing everyday-- stitching and then undoing the stitch so that I can try again. I can't wait to learn another stitch from her. Sure, I could google a crochet "how-to" article or find a video on youtube, but I would much rather learn from Nana. 

Last night, we had deer stew for supper. Again, I couldn't help but think of the Little House books. I used Dustin's Nana's recipe, meat that Dustin got during deer season last year, and some vegetables from my Nana's garden. As I was combining the ingredients and thinking of how they all came together, the feeling of love and thankfulness was overwhelming. Nana's recipe isn't complex or full of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce-- just meat, vegetables, seasonings, and love. Knowing that it was her recipe, meat that Dustin brought home from his hunt, and produce from my Nana's garden made the experience so sweet. As we ate the warm stew, I knew we were tasting the goodness of the Lord. How sweet He is to love us in such special, even sometimes simple, ways! 

I may not live on a farm with chickens, a pig (y'all know I must have a pig), a goat, or a cow like the Ingalls did. Maybe someday we will. Surely I can convince Dustin to get on board with the pig plan, right?! I may not make all of our meals from scratch using ingredients we grew in a garden or sew our clothes. Maybe someday I will get past the basic crochet chain stitch! But until those days come, if they do and even if they don't, I can appreciate the simple pleasures. I can be thankful for the little things. I can make the most of what we have. I can be honest and truthful and courageous, all through the grace of God. Because just like Laura said, these are the real things. 

Back in the summer, I posted this photo of our neighbor's zinnias. It's not creepy that I took a picture of their flowers, I asked first. Ok, maybe it is weird, but they made me happy and I wanted to remember them! I put the caption on the photo as "if we don't appreciate the little things in life, how can we appreciate the "big" things?" My sweet friend Sophie commented with the following verse that has stuck with me since then in a whole new way. 

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..."
{Luke 16:10}

Let's be people who can be trusted with little. 
Let's be grateful for life's simplest pleasures. 
Let's be thankful for the real things. 

Have a blessed day, y'all! 

Monday, October 07, 2013

7 on the 7th: fall favorites!

Happy fall ya'll! Do you call it autumn? No judgment here-- honestly, I like "fall" better because it rhymes with "y'all." Regardless of how you refer to it, I love this time of year. Remember earlier in the summer when I was confessing about being one of those people who just loves whatever season is currently happening? Yes, it's true. I loved summer. The food, the festivities, the sun, and did I mention the food? But once September rolled around, I was quick to avert my affections to all things fall. Since technically fall did not start until closer to the end of September, I decided to save my fall favorites for October's 7 on the 7th!

1. pumpkin: everything
I am one of the pumpkin addicts-- I love it all: the scent, the flavor, the color, the decor, you name it. On September 1st, I did not wait a second longer to break out the pumpkin candles. All 12 of them, to be exact! Back in June, Dustin purchased quite a few pumpkin candles that were on sale. I teased him about the large quantity and the fall scent. I told him that we could not burn pumpkin scented candles in the middle of a season that, in my mind, calls for citrusy, summery scents. So we stored them until I could no longer take it. I have not burned them all, but I have put a good dent in the stockpile! In addition to the candles, I have enjoyed pumpkin shakes, coffee creamers, and muffins. I pinned and tested this delicious recipe for a banana pumpkin shake. It makes a sweet, cool treat for the fall days that are warmer than usual. I also purchased these adorable ceramic pumpkins at the Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, a dollar! We are all about a deal in the Curtsinger household--especially a cute, seasonal one!

2. leaves
Isn't this bold red leaf just gorgeous!? It was one of the first to fall from the tree in our front yard and by far one of the prettiest I have seen. I love the beauty of this time of year. All the colors are my favorites-- reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. Isn't God an amazing artist? His creation declares His glory! I love the leaf confetti that is taking over our street and yard. It is just so cozy and beautiful. 

3. apple cider
My Granddaddy passed down his love for apple cider to me, no doubt. Back home, he visits Schmidt Farms in Paducah, KY that makes the best cider you've ever tasted. He stocks up on their cider by the gallons, freezes it, and then shares it with us throughout the winter. Granddaddy is such a giver! I was so excited when I found a place here in Illinois that makes pretty tasty cider as well. While I am pretty partial to Schmidt Farms, this stuff is a close second. I love it cold but on the nights that are cool, I enjoy warming it with some cinnamon sticks for extra spice. Such a great fall treat! 

4. squash
I love all squash-- summer, spaghetti, butternut, etc. I typically in the past have just decorated with acorn squash. But I wanted to try cooking it this year. I really liked it. All I did was cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, for all you non-Rachael Ray fans), and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I baked it at 400 for about 45 minutes or so. The result was a crispy crust with a tender inside. I think I will try it again with some more seasonings but I did enjoy the simplicity of the oil, salt, and pepper. Not to mention, I thought it was just so pretty! 

5. scarves
While, I could go on and on about the tastes of fall that I love, I must also mention a couple of other things! Scarves being one of them. I love that they can add color, texture, and warmth to any outfit. Who knew that there were so many ways to wear them, too!? One of my favorites is the purple one that my Grandmother gave me for Christmas one year. It is so soft and warm. I appreciate functional gifts that you will always associate with the giver! 

6. mums
To me, mums are the classic fall decor. Their simplicity and pop of color are just perfect! I can't decide which color is my favorite. I love the bright yellow, but the red is also lovely! The oranges, whites, and pinks/purples are just gorgeous as well. You just can't go wrong with mums in my book! 

7. Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven…
One Sunday, I was really noticing the changing of the seasons. The air was a bit more crisp, the leaves were a bit more colorful, and this verse came to mind. Isn't it amazing how the seasons change? How the divine timing occurs? I am so thankful for a growing appreciation for the seasons in life-- both the physical seasons and the spiritual ones. When you take a moment to reflect on the work God is doing in your life, to actively look for what He is doing in and around you, it is truly amazing what you will find! He wants to bless us, and richly does so, but how often do we overlook those blessings? How often do we take for granted the seasons of our life because we are too excited to see the next one come? Maybe you're in a rich season-- one of bounty and happiness. Maybe you're in a low season-- one of doubt or loss or struggle. Maybe you're in a transitional season. My prayer is that regardless of our season, we will praise and thank Him. He is so worthy. 

So there you have it! My 7 fall favorites. I would love to hear yours! 
Enjoy this season! 

Have a blessed day! 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

live colorfully.

Today's post has been on my mind for a while. I think God has been revealing more and more to me lately and I am finally piecing it together. I pray what I share makes sense in your mind like it does in mine. Ever have those moments where in your mind what you are thinking is crystal clear, and then once you say it, the clarity is not as apparent? I do on the regular. Hopefully this is not one of them…

I love old photo's. Y'all know the black and white ones of your grandparents or great-grandparents? Or maybe they are more sepia toned. I love the nostalgic feeling they bring to the ones who maybe were in the photo. In this day and age -- thank you Instagram -- we can make any photo have a certain look by choosing different filters. Now at the Influence Conference, I learned that filters are not the way to go. While I agree to some extent, I really do enjoy 1977, Nashville, Rise, Lo-Fi… You get the picture (ha, a pun!), I love filters. They may not always be cool, but oh well. I like them! I think it's funny to imagine my Great Granny Weezy -- yes, that is what she was called, her actual name was Louise -- asking her girlfriends if the Willow filter made her look less pale (Willow is a black & white filter for those of you who may not have Instagram). Ok, so now that I have chased a few rabbits, and laughed at my own silly jokes, I am hopefully getting back to my thought…

Black and white photos are often equated with the past or previous, older times. How often do you find yourself stuck in the past? I am not talking about reminiscing on the good ol' days in a positive way. I think there is a time and place for that. I mean being stuck in regret, shame, disappointment. or bitterness because of bad choices you made or difficult situations that you had to endure. Maybe this isn't an issue for you. If not, I'm so happy for you. But for me, I know that I have carried a lot of my struggles with me from my past in an unhealthy way.

I mentioned in my previous post that at the Influence Conference, Shauna Niequist encouraged us to avoid cramming so much into life that you can't taste or feel or experience it. I could not agree more. I would like to add to that, if you are too busy rehashing your mistakes, your disappointments, your grudges, or the times that just weren't fair, you will also miss out on tasting, seeing, and experiencing life that is happening now. You won't see the beauty that God has placed around you. You won't take time to stop, breathe, and give thanks. You will be too busy living in a black and white, previous time that has already passed, rather than living in the the present, in color.

As much as I love a beautiful black and white photo, I love one in color even more. I love the details. The different hues. I love the way that they take you to to the specific time and place and you can vividly remember it. I want to live in color. I want to soak up the details of life. I want to let go of my black and white past and experience the present in the brightest shades possible. I'm not speaking of a "you only live once" crazy type living. I mean the type of living that stops on the side of the road to take a picture of a field that is soaked in the most beautiful sunlight. I mean the type of living that looks for one thousand gifts and writes them down, even writing them in color. I mean the type of living that is in the freedom of Christ, rather than the bondage of disbelief.

Are y'all with me? I pray this rambling post hits home with some of you. We can't afford to miss another day because we are kicking ourselves over what happened 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Yes, we must remember where we have been, where God has delivered us from and be thankful for His grace. We can't be like the Israelites who forgot what God had done for them by bringing them out of slavery. But y'all, we also can't go back. We can't undo what has been done. We can't get stuck in the black and white and miss all the color that is around us, all the joy, all the love, all the grace.

So let's commit to living colorfully, in the present, in the now. Let's look for the one thousand ways that God blesses us and live a life that says "thank you." Let's put down the boring black pens and write boldly in color. Let's reminisce on the good times, but leave the shame and bitterness behind. Let's see and live life through God's filters of love, joy, grace, kindness, and peace. I must say, this isn't something that I just figured out one day. I am still learning. He is continually doing His work in my life and heart. He places people in my life who share His Truth and I'm forever grateful for that. I pray daily for Him to open my eyes to His beauty around me and for me to then share it. I also pray that God opens your eyes to Him and the colorful life we can live right now.

Have a blessed day, y'all! Live colorfully! 

*no filter, promise! ;)