Friday, January 30, 2015

glimpses of grace by gloria furman

One of my goals for 2015 is to read at least one book a month. My sweet friend Sophie gave me a copy of the book Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman & I wanted it to be the first one I completed this year. I love when a book challenges you & this one definitely does just that. Gloria is a pastor's wife, mother of four young children, and lives in the Middle East where she and her husband are planting a church. Talk about having your hands full!?

In Glimpses of Grace Gloria acknowledges how easy it is for us to look around at the mundane in our lives & neglect to see the grace in the midst of it. She provides practical examples of everyday life for a wife or mother and provides them with a gospel perspective. Whether your work is primarily in the home, outside the home, or a combination of the two-- this book speaks applicable truth for each of us. One part that really struck me is when she quotes Paul Tripp:

"If God doesn't rule your mundane, then he doesn't rule you. Because that's where you live."

When we think where we live, it often isn't as glamorous as the magazines and movies depict it. Instead it is full of mundane. The sink is overflowing with dishes. The toilets need to be scrubbed. The laundry is piled up like Mount Washmore. The refrigerator is smelly from leftovers forgotten. The floor is in need of a good sweeping. The grocery store lines are never ending. The driver in front of you won't pick up the pace. Our attitudes are often in need of adjusting. Yet in all of these situations, how do we react? Do we take the time to slow down, notice the grace we are given, praise the one who gives it, and respond with thanksgiving? I must admit my initial response to a combination of any of the situations above is often frustration, worry, and selfishness rather than patience, peace, and praise. Gloria said it beautifully: 

"The source of our faith, hope, love, joy and gospel-grounded optimism is God himself and not our stuff or circumstances." 

I could give excerpt after excerpt, but then I would be quoting the entire book. My suggestion-- read it for your self. When we are studying, discussing, and applying the gospel, our eyes are often opened even more to those glimpses of grace around us. Colossians 3:17 is such a wonderful verse that I probably should post somewhere in our home for constant reminding:

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

One book down, 11 more (at least) to go. Do you like to keep track of your book list? If you do, we have that in common and you may enjoy the free app goodreads! I installed it on my phone a couple years ago but never really did anything with it until a few weeks ago. I have enjoyed placing books on my virtual bookshelves-- ones I have read, am currently reading, and would like to read. I also made a shelf for Baby C. I like that you can see what friends are reading and also give recommendations. I would love to connect and see what books you're enjoying or would like to read!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

fabulous foodie swap

Y'all know I love me some food-- so much I chose a career that directly involves it. Everyone has their passions & food is definitely mine.

Rachel Cox of Oh Simple Thoughts is a fellow foodie. Her posts are absolutely beautiful & the pictures of her culinary creations are mouthwatering! A few weeks ago she created the Fabulous Foodie Swap & I am glad I participated. Be sure to check out her blog for details about February's Fabulous Foodie Swap if you're interested!

I didn't document the box I sent my partner but I enjoyed finding a few things she likes along with a couple items I love. When we signed up Rachel had a space for us to include our preferences of snacks/flavors/textures so I tried to pick some from the ones she listed. I also wanted to give her some surprise happys-- a notepad & a cute tea towel-- both of which are must-haves for me in the kitchen. I am always writing down a grocery list or to-do list & I love decorating with tea towels.

Who doesn't love snail mail, especially when it's a package of food-related goodies?! My partner, Jill, sent me several neat treats:
  • sweet & savory popcorn
  • kale chia chips
  • vanilla bean lollypops
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • a great tumbler
  • a cute bracelet
The chocolate chip cookies didn't stand a chance with this pregnant girl. The box pictured is empty. Neither did the sea salted caramel popcorn. The bag is not shown because it is gone. I'm trying to let the remaining goodies last a bit longer! Thanks Jill for being my partner & thanks Rachel for the fun swap!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

a special anniversary

I love celebrating special little moments. There's something about taking the time to remember an event that means a lot to you. I especially love forming traditions out of such celebrations, and even more so when they involve food! Three years ago today, Dustin asked me to marry him. I love re-creating that special evening by preparing the same meal we were cooking together when he proposed.

I'll never forget that day. He had just returned from a duck hunting trip and we had plans to prepare some of the meat he brought home. Earlier that afternoon my mom kept encouraging me to go get my nails done. At an early age, she instilled in me a deep appreciation for a good manicure so it was not out of the ordinary for her to suggest such an idea. Although, looking back she was quite adamant!

Once I arrived at Dustin's apartment, we started preparing our feast-- bacon wrapped duck breast, glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes. I remember being indecisive about which recipe I wanted to use for the carrots so I kept leaving the kitchen to go look up other ideas. Dustin kept pulling me back to the kitchen, which I just took as a sign that he was hungry and tired of my delaying the meal! Ha!

After I finally decided on a a recipe, I was standing at the stove stirring melted butter and brown sugar --what's not to love about those two ingredients?!-- for the glaze. I noticed he had left the room but didn't give it another thought. The next thing I know, he's tapping me on the back and as I turn around he's down on one knee. To be honest, the rest is kind of a blur. The excitement and emotions took over! I do remember him saying he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and when he asked if I would marry him my first response was "ARE YOU SERIOUS!?" followed by a quick "YES!"

Then he shared more of how he had planned everything and discussed with our families. At that point our meal was ready but I was so excited I could hardly eat a thing! It wasn't until the following year when we re-created the evening for the first time that I truly tasted and enjoyed all we prepared. We started calling family and friends to share the news with them. He also told me that our moms would be coming with dessert to celebrate! What a sweet, special evening it was and I love re-creating it each year!

The first year we celebrated our engagement anniversary, we were in our first home together in Kentucky. We sat in the middle of the kitchen at a little table that belonged to my great grandmother, drank from our wedding goblets that also belonged to her, and reminisced. I loved actually getting to savor the yummy flavors of our special meal for the first time!

The second year, last year, we celebrated in our home in Illinois. We used his great grandmother's china and reflected on the previous two years. 

This year, our third year of celebrating, we are in our sweet friends' home, anticipating an upcoming move and the arrival of our daughter in the next couple months. I went back to the bakery where our moms had ordered a cake for us that night and picked up a few cupcakes for us to enjoy. We celebrated a little early because of our schedules this week. It was still so special.

So much has changed over the past three years-- our addresses, our roles, our ages, our perspectives, and I know things will continue to change in the future. Despite the changes, so much has remained. It reminds me of a verse that has been so special to me over the years and was included in our wedding-- 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Now these three remain: 
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love. 

Dustin, your love is one of my greatest blessings because love is from God. I'm so thankful to be spending the my life with you. You add so much laughter, wisdom, and camouflage to my life. I wouldn't want it any other way. Thank you for the past three years of celebrating our special anniversary and love for each other. Here's to many, many more. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

7 on the 7th: smart snacking

Happy New Year y'all! With the fresh start to the year, often people are making resolutions-- more of this, less of that, etc. I love to encourage people to be intentional with their lives and pursue healthier lifestyles-- in their spiritual walk, in their relationships, in their physical health, you name it.

In the fast paced world we live in, everything is about convenience. We want everything cheaper and quicker than before. I'm not bashing all shortcuts; however, if we are not careful we can become used to substituting quality for convenience. I see this most when it comes to the standard American diet-- packaged, processed food that quickly & cheaply gives us something to eat at the expense of our health.

I have heard from others, and even use some myself, many reasons for not prioritizing our diet-- busy schedules, lack of experience in the kitchen, aversions to certain foods, not wanting to feel deprived, etc. We place everything else at the top of our lists and leave what we eat at the bottom.

This year, and every year, I encourage you to prioritize you health by choosing healthier foods to eat.  Skip the unhealthy shortcuts. Make it a habit to plan meals & snacks each week. Spend more time in kitchen and less time in the doctor's office. Fill your grocery cart with more produce and less processed foods. Experiment with new ingredients and cooking methods. Say no to added sugar, lengthy ingredient lists, and nutrient empty foods that do not nourish your body. Say yes to real, whole foods.

Here are seven smart snack ideas and tips to fill and fuel your body:

1. Pair carbohydrate with protein and/or healthy fat. For example, if you have a piece of fruit, enjoy it with a handful of unsalted nuts or a piece of cheese. This slows down the digestion of the carbohydrate, which prevents a spike in your blood sugar. In doing so, you avoid the crash that follows.

2. Consider portions. Fresh fruit is delicious and provides vitamins and minerals. Fruit also provides carbohydrates which are broken down into glucose, or sugar, in our bodies. Aim for your fruit to be about the size of a tennis ball and try not to let that be the only food you choose as a snack. Also, Rather than reaching into and eating from the large container of nuts, prepare small containers of appropriate portions for snacks.

3. Be prepared. When you plan your menus for meals, include snacks for each day.  Put aside time in your week to make a batch of trail mix, roast an extra pan of vegetables, prepare a chicken/tuna salad, or boil a few extra eggs. Through this planned preparation, you are setting yourself up for success in your snacking.

4. Identify your weaknesses and eliminate the temptations. If you struggle with drinking cokes, eating too many chips, or reach for sweets too often-- don't keep them in your house. Instead keep your homemade snacks and fresh produce on hand.

5. Don't expect perfection but keep yourself accountable. Some adopt an 80/20 rule-- aim to eat healthy, whole foods 80% of time and allow treats for special occasions the remaining 20%.

6. Make your treats count. A fellow dietitian, Carlene Thomas, has a great mindset about those foods that are not for everyday consumption-- view them and experience them as a luxury. If you want ice cream or a chocolate, treat yourself to the best there is so that your experience enjoying them is full. Don't settle for a cheap alternative that still leaves you unsatisfied.

7. Assess your hunger before you eat. Are you truly hungry? Are you actually just thirsty? What flavors, textures, temperatures are you wanting? Once you identify the answers to these questions, seek to meet that hunger with the healthiest options: If you're wanting a crunchy fix-- reach for some plain nuts instead of chips. If you're wanting something sweet, try some fresh fruit or dark chocolate instead of cookies.

What smart snacking tips have you found to be helpful?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

devotion: one word for 2015

Happy New Year, y'all! Don't you just love a fresh start? I know I do. I have enjoyed reading about everyone's goals, resolutions, or reasons for not making resolutions this year. I think to some degree, regardless of how we label it, we all have our own way of pursuing growth in our lives. I don't know many people who want to say exactly the same. However that looks for you, I hope you see growth in your life in 2015!

Last year I learned of many people declaring one word for their focus in the upcoming year. Examples include: courage, peace, create, thrive, delight, bloom, etc. I loved this idea and declared simplify to be my one word for 2014. I aimed to for simplicity in many ways-- in our home, in our routine, in our lives. Through saying "no" to some things, I was able to say "yes" to what mattered most. Through letting go of  some "stuff" I was able to better appreciate the gifts I've been given. I hope to continue to simplify this year as well! With a growing family, I am sure it will be a challenge but I know it will be worth it.

This year, I am declaring devotion to be my one word for 2015. 
: a feeling of strong love or loyalty
: the use of time money, energy, etc., for a particular purpose 
: synonyms- affection, love, passion, commitment

I came across a form of this word while reading {1 Chronicles 22:19} last week and it has stayed with me since. 

My prayer for 2015 is that I remain mindful of my devotion. To the Lord, to my husband, to our family, to our friends, to my health, to the roles God has given me. I want to carefully consider how I am using my time, our money, and my energy. Too often I am guilty of wasting time worrying, spending money on frivolous things, and exerting energy at times when I should just be still. I pray that my love for and commitment to the things that truly matter in life continues to grow. 

Are you declaring one word for 2015? If so, what is it? 

Happy 2015!