Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Life These Days

So I recently remembered a funny video clip my sister once shared with me.  When I first saw it I gave a hearty chuckle, but I didn't fully understand the reality of it because I believe I had just had Olivia.  She was still in her fresh, newborn, squirmy, sleepy stage, and she hadn't even found her little voice yet.  Twenty months later, it's a different story.  Livi's an active, chatty, repetitive, question-filled toddler.  Throughout the day she often repeats phrases over and over, testing my patience to its core.  As much as I love my sweet Livi, the constant, broken record-esque words/phrases, sure is God's way of teaching me patience during the short span of each day I spend with her.

The clip is from the show Family Guy.  It's a "dialogue" (once you see it you'll see why I use " " for the word dialogue) between Stewie, the baby, and Lois, the mother.  It's kinda comedic how closely this reflects part of my life these days.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Blogwagon

I am currently enjoying the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as Livi busily entertains herself with her new Elmo potty book on the living room carpet.  Nate and I, still clad in our plaid jammies, relax in the sunlight streaming through our large picture window. 

A couple of my blogging friends have already posted their “what I’m thankful for” blog entry, and I thought I’d jump on that blogwagon before I enter my turkey/sweet potato/stuffing Thanksgiving coma and find it too difficult to lift a lazy finger to type.

So here it is…my Thankful on Thanksgiving list:

*Jesus – “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 
*my amazing husband
*my sweet Olivia  
*being able to live in the same town as both sides of our family
*lifetime friends
*Northridge Church
*crazy dog Annie
*the ability to be a stay at home momma
*home sweet home
*4 years with Cru
*being smacked in the face a bunch of times this past year with what God chose to teach me
*good books I have recently read

These are just a few of my “thankfuls.”  Making this list is one of those things that I could work on endlessly.  The list would be insane!  So, what are you thankful for???  Share the thanks!...Leave a comment! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Little Sweetness

If you know me well, you know I love my sweets.  There’s an added bonus if the sweets are properly paired with a salty.  If I have a combination of the two in front of me (ex: a bowl of M&Ms and a bowl of pretzels), I could literally gorge myself silly going back and forth between the two.  DANGEROUS!

Overall, I much prefer the sweet over the salty, and in the sweet department, I prefer anything chocolate.  The chocolate obsession, I believe, is hereditary.  I still have memories of my grandma telling me how much she loved chocolate as she mischievously grinned from ear to ear, fully exposing her chocolaty gooed Milky Way teeth.  After she passed away, I even inherited her Hershey’s Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.

In the beginning of the month I shared a meal recipe and today I’m going to share a dessert recipe with you.  Side note: I’ve just decided now that this is going to be a monthly occurrence (one meal recipe in the beginning of the month and one dessert recipe about midway through the month).

I have a little bit of a confession to make.  This recipe that I’m going to share with you…I haven’t actually made them myself.  I fully enjoyed eating them at a picnic, and my friend so graciously passed the recipe onto me.  Oatmeal Carmelitas are so amazingly delicious!  It’s chocolate…it’s caramel…it’s crunchy goodness all rolled into one!  One thing I know for sure is that I CANNOT WAIT to make them!  I’m actually currently texting away to my grocery store-bound husband the ingredients that I need so I can make them TONIGHT!  So here it is!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Oatmeal Carmelitas
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
1 (14-oz.) package caramels
1/3 cup half-and-half

1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add butter, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Reserve half of mixture (about 2 3/4 cups). Press remaining half of mixture into bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate morsels, and, if desired, pecans.

2. Microwave caramels and half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 3 minutes. Stir and microwave at MEDIUM 1 to 3 more minutes or until mixture is smooth. Let stand 1 minute. Pour evenly over chocolate morsels. Sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture.

3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Introverted Cinnamon Crunch Lover

It’s Nate’s Monday day off, and I decided to take some time to myself.  I’m currently sitting in one of my favorite chill places.  I have a toasty, delicious beverage, and I just absolutely scarfed down a toasted cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese.  Any guesses where I am?  Anyone?  Anyone?  If you happened to guess Panara…ding ding ding!  High five!

Wanna know what else?  There’s a couple of people sitting together about 20 feet behind me over my right shoulder that I totally know.  Like I usually see them on a weekly basis.  I’m being anti-social.  As soon as I walked in I spotted them, and I did the ol’ body/head tilt away from their general direction.  After I put my order in, I grabbed a table in the corner near the window, and I strategically sat in the seat that looked out the window…thereby giving the majority of the Panarians (yep, I just made that up!) a splendid view of the back of my head. 

There are just some days I want to be all alone.  Am I being selfish?  That’s a hypothetical question by the way, because I don’t want to see anyone answer that question in the comments below thank you very much.  I once took this personality test and the first personality trait it measures is whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.  So either you are energized by being alone or you are energized by being around people.  Let’s just say I scored a pretty high number for being an introvert.  Now I can definitely schmooze it up when I need to.  Schmoozing is quite an art I’ve learned throughout my life and especially after being in full-time college ministry for 4 years.  I can even, when asked enough times, speak in front of large groups of people.  This not only goes against my introverted personality, but it rips at my fear of public speaking.  There were times, and there will always be times, where I have to exercise my extrovertedness as my introvertedness is screaming within me. 

One of the greatest desires of my life is to influence people for Christ.  When it comes to my introvertedness, there’s a word in that last sentence that makes a HUGE difference.  PEOPLE.  In order to influence PEOPLE I have to be okay with stepping out of my comfort zone.  I have to rely on Someone other than myself for the strength to make that step.  When I am in the place where I have to exercise my extrovertedness instead of my introvertedness I can only run to God and ask Him to show His strength through my weakness.  Yes, I know me being introverted isn’t necessarily a weakness because that’s the way God molded my personality.  But when me being introverted causes me to be selfish?…that’s a different story! 

So I write this as a reminder to myself that there’s a nice balance between being a healthy introvert and being a selfish introvert.  Where is that middle balancing ground?  I don’t know if I’m quite sure I know the specific answer for that yet.  Any tipper-roos are welcome though J !

Friday, November 11, 2011

Coping By Cleaning

Everybody copes with stress/conflict/difficulties in one way or another.  It’s an ugly truth. 

Some people eat (GUILTY!!!).  Some people shop (GUILTY!!!).  Some people exercise (wish I could be found even an inkling guilty for this one!). 

Some people sweep it under the rug, plaster a forced smile on their face, and pretend everything’s a-ok.  Some people busy their lives with countless activities.  Some people, in their conversations with innocent bystanders, make jabs at the one they are hurt by. 

Yikes!  This is getting a little deep!  Let’s move on…

So this past week Nate and I got into a little tiff.  Yes, every couple fights, and it knocks my socks off when I hear someone in a relationship say, “Oh, we don’t really fight” or the newly dating/newly married couple that sheepishly grin and say, “We haven’t had a fight yet.”  One meaty word for you: BALOGNA!  Anyyyyywayyyyy, Nate and I were having a little conflict sesh.  Don’t ask me what it was about because I couldn’t tell you.  That’s how ridiculous it probably was.  So the way I often initially deal with conflict is I ignore it, while playing the situation/conversation in my head over and over.  I stop talking.  I shut down.  And forget about eye contact with me because there’s no way I’m giving it to you.  So, in the midst of this conflict with the hubster I began to clean the kitchen.  By this point Nate had left the room because I was ignoring him all together.  This was happening post-dinner so I had to clean the kitchen anyway.  However, after the dishes were in the dishwasher and the table and counters were wiped clean, I continued to clean.  I proceeded to clean and organize the fridge (which, hardly ever gets done), wipe down the outside of all the appliances, and use the scrubby part of the sponge along with spray bleach to re-wipe all the already clean countertops.  What in the world?!?  I had automatically turned into a mean, lean, cleaning machine in a matter of a few minutes, all the while replaying the conflict in my head.  At some point during my kitchen cleaning quest, I made the connection that I was avoiding the current situation with Nate.  I realized that the conflict I was trying so hard to keep inside of me was bubbling out through the action of cleaning.  Instead of working through the conflict with Nate in a healthy way, I chose the unhealthy route by trying to ignore it.

It’s so hard to actually make the choice to act in humility in the midst of conflict.  It’s just not natural.  It feels so against my own selfish desires.  But that’s just it…I’m selfish.  I want things to go my way.  I want to be the one to always be right.  Sometimes it just feels easier to avoid conflict and cope with it in a hundred different ways instead of the one way that it should be dealt with.  Suck it up and face it head on!  Easier said than done, right? 

The lead pastor at our church often refers to two choices in life: the choice to please God or the choice to please self.  It seems kinda simple.  It seems like the obvious choice would always be to please God.  But can I get an AMEN on the fact that it’s just sometimes easier to please self?  It’s such a constant battle of everyday life: Driving down the road and the old lady in front of me is going insanely slow?  Please God…Please self?  A friend talking trash about another mutual friend or family member?  Please God…Please self?  The babe is clearly doing something she knows she shouldn’t be doing?  Please God…please self?  The house is a complete and utter mess?  Please God…please self?  Someone says something hurtful to me?  Please God…please self.  You get the idea…the list is ENDLESS.  Every day I am faced with multiple opportunities to either please God or to please self.  

Now, I’d love to hear from you on a couple things!  What is one way you have found yourself coping with a difficult situation?  What is one practical way you can choose to please God instead of pleasing self (either in the midst of conflict or just in general)?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Snow White

I write this post feeling absolutely overwhelmed by God’s love and grace.  I am broken before the cross of Christ reflecting on the sacrifice that was made for ME!  I know this should be an ever-apparent thought in my daily life, but quite honestly it’s not.  I so easily forget.  I distract myself with everything else.  I’m in the middle of this book study that has grown and stretched me like crazy.  The book is called “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith.  So each week on the (in)courage website two chapters are discussed via video.  The chapter that was reviewed today is called “The First Stone: Fear Of My Past Catching Up To Me.”  The story from the Bible that Angie illustrated this with is the story of the adulterous woman being brought before Jesus by the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were reciting the law saying that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned.  They waited for Jesus’ response, hoping to have a charge to bring against him.  They wanted to find blame in the One who was completely blameless.  Jesus responds by bending down to write something on the ground he was standing on.  He then stands up and tells the Pharisees, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."  Jesus again bent down to write something on the ground, and as he did that the accusers walked away one by one.  Now, I’m not going to go into anything specifically about my past…I have one…so does everyone else.  If I’m being real, I really do have a fear that my past will catch up to me.  Yeah, I don’t show it in a noticeable way, or I don’t try to scramble around covering up my past, but I do let it get the best of my thought life sometimes.  What if what I did back then shows its ugly head in my life today?  What if a punishment is waiting for me around the corner?  Just like the adulterous woman, I’m waiting for someone to throw the first stone.  A line in the chapter that struck my heart was: “I am convinced that the enemy preys on our memories and regrets, and taunts us with the many ways in which we have failed God.”  So true!  Guess what though?!?!  The beauty of the cross of Christ covers me in forgiveness and grace!  I have most definitely asked God to forgive me for those times in my life, so I have to choose to believe and take God at his word when He says that my sins are as far away from being held against me as the east is from the west.  I am forgiven.  I am clean.  Angie describes Jesus in this way (which I looooove her wording!): “[Jesus is] The shame-lifter, the God-made-man, the burden-carrier, the lover of my soul…with forgiveness and grace like I had never known.”  It absolutely takes my breath away.  I’m just going to continue to use Angie’s words and leave you with one more quote from her book: “The Lord has delighted in the grace that washes you white as snow.  White.  As.  Snow.”   

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

One Of My Faves

A few times each month I would love to share some of my favorite recipes with you!  I'm always up for trying new recipes, and I love when people share good ones too.

We went over Nate's parents last night for dinner, and Nate's mom made one of my favorite recipes that I passed on to her.  I actually got it from a friend during one of those email recipe exchanges, and it has been by far one of my all-time faves!  It's a great cold weather comfort food!  It's not the healthiest, but once in awhile I think it's totally okay.  Another plus...IT'S SO EASY!  So here it is:

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 (16 oz) sour cream
1 (16 oz) salsa
1 (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. diced onion
1 (8 oz) can chili beans, drained
6 (11 inch) flour tortillas, cut in strips
6 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
In large bowl mix: sour cream, salsa, soup, onion, and chili beans.
Layer bottom of 9x13 with 1/3 of tortilla strips.
Top with 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the sour cream mix, 1/3 of the cheese .
Continue layering.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  If you end up making it, tell me what you think!