December 24, 2013


How can I write words unless I'm filled to the tippy-top and overflowing with the Word Himself?

How do I write when the well is dry, cracked, and unable to keep drops from seeping away?

How? I wondered.

Fill me up, Jesus, whispered my heart. Give me a new well, one without cracks, one with a source everflowing.

Renew my mind, Lord, 'cause I'm dry and thirsty and how is one supposed to bubble life when life's sunk deep below the fill line top?

Oh, and Jesus?
You've got to do the work. I tried it before, tried filling up with your water, but when I struggle to wrap arms and life's broken shards around life liquid flowing, my heart forgets it has a spring. 

Yesterday my heart whispered, a faint, parched cry.

But Jesus, He's got good ears, you know?

So moment by moment He renewed my mind. They came like drops of crystal clear sweet water itself, small gifts of thoughts pointing straight to Him.
Time after time, all day long, He reminded me of Himself.
The Living Water.
And I sipped sweet life, all day long, as He splashed into my mind, renewed, and my heart, made new.

The well I had been was one clenching and grabbing, struggling to grasp water. 
But boa constrictors squeeze and clench to crush their prey. 
And my well fractured and cracked and leaked all the more as I frantically hugged the life leaking away.

So when I whispered, unclenched, loosened my grip, I made room for Him in my heart. 
You know the Christmas carol singing "let every heart prepare Him room?"
It sings of truth.

Because the human heart is made to clench, to squeeze, to beat pumping something. And if we don't release and open up to the Maker, our hearts squeeze and crack, broken wells, unable to hold water.

But Jesus is working in this heart of mine, renewing me, reminding me.
Because I don't have to hold tight to the water.
My well is filling, always flowing, from the spring of Life-water Himself.

And my pumping, squeezing, pulsing, heart?
It is the means by which Life-water splashes and bubbles, flowing over and over,
pulsing life.

December 18, 2013

A Winter Ensemble

I'm taking a break from writing this week to share with you my new favorite outfit! After practically being dragged into buying some tall boots ('cause I'm a stingy shopper), I had a flash of fashion inspiration and pulled together this winter ensemble (as featured in my last post):
I love the lacy texture of this little burgundy dress, but the neckline and bodice is waaaayyyy immodest, and it was originally a little shorter than I'm comfortable with. So. I had to be creative!
The white lace you see peeking out under the dress is actually not part of the dress. To add a couple more inches in length, I re-purposed an old "petticoat"/ underskirt thingy by shortening it so it came to my knees. I actually like the dress better with the white lace than without it!
Adding a jean jacket brings in a little contrast and gives the outfit a western flair, besides adding warmth and modesty. And the final touch, of course, is the boots. Although I was hesitant to buy them at first, they have grown on me and I love how they look with the rest of this outfit!
I couldn't resist pulling a quiver into the pictures. :) 
I'd like to challenge you girls to experiment with your wardrobe a bit. Find something you've not worn in a while, or something that's not quite modest enough, and play around with it! Add another layer or pull in a flash of color; add a belt or bring in some contrast! Just remember to keep it modest - tight enough to show you're a woman, but loose enough to show you're a lady. ;)

December 10, 2013

An Adventure of My Own

I've been hearing and reading and seeing lots of adventure lately. From Narnia to the Avengers to Inheritance to Hunger Games... and this saturation has made me long for adventure of my own. 

But this morning, that all changed. 
This morning I realized that I do have an adventure - the adventure of a believer, a walk with God. Paul, in 1Timothy 6:12, states, "Fight the good fight of the faith." So I'm not only in a great adventure, but also smack in the midst of a fight, a battle, a war.
God has given me a mission, and there is a very real battlefield here, before my eyes. Not only that, but as Lucy, Edmund, and Caspian faced inward struggles as the sea and evil played tricks on their mind on the Dawn Treader, I too have a multitude of battles to fight in my mind. Last night I was almost defeated by a self-imposed monster of failure lurking in my head, and the only thing that saved me was a supernatural wave that knocked me to my knees to pray. This morning I fought the deceivingly beautiful army of distraction, and struggled to see past a mist of confusion. 
Yes, I do have an adventure of my own. I have battles to fight and missions to fulfill. It's all very real. Very, very real. 

Take, for example, school. My schoolwork is a precarious mountain I must scale, being ever alert in order to dodge misses of laziness and distraction.
Pinterest is a beautiful forest filled with land mines of comparison and covetousness, with vines reaching to ensnare me in a tangle of self-worth. Through this forest I choose to wade, searching for hidden gems of wisdom and usefulness. 
Every meal is an obstacle course of choices, ranging from puddles of veggies or fruit to barbed wire fences of over-eating. 
Conversations, too, are battles. Will I speak Jesus-talk, or will Satan seduce me into dark loaded words and fiery, searing comments? 
Is it no wonder that I often find myself spiritually exhausted? I think not. In fact, I am presenting to you that grumbles and haughty looks don't stem from nothing. They are, I believe, side effects of wounds I receive on the battlefield. 
When I take my eyes from the end goal in my adventure - Jesus - I instantly become vulnerable to attacks from the enemy, Satan. A brilliant foe, he grabs every opportunity to wound my faith, set back my growth, and plant discouragement in my heart while my eyes are wandering. Thankfully, my Father knows what it is like to be human* so He gave me a Helper** who lives inside me and guides me back to my Father when I stray or falter. Not only that, but there are also awesome invisible agents of God - angels - that are mysteriously working against Satan and his cohorts as well.  
Life is a joy, true. But it is also a journey, an adventure, a battle. Whose side are you on? Have you been living as if every moment is a battle for Christ?

P.S. More on this outfit next week, yes?
* because He came to earth on the first Christmas as Jesus!
** otherwise known as the Holy Spirit

December 4, 2013

Strong in Grace

Paul's words caught me, tugged at my heart this afternoon as pages fell open to 2 Timothy 2:1. 
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 
How many times have I judged someone's strength by their outward appearances, or the witty replies of their minds? 
How many times have strong ones crumbled, fragile as dust, behind doors slammed shut or feet pounding away? How many times have the strong ones felt weak standing against comparison's dark army? How many times have I thought myself strong for scaling a hill only to find a sheer rocky cliff awaiting me?
So the strong ones are weak, and I wonder how I can be strong. But the strong I need, deep down inside, is not the strong of this world, but a Jesus-type strong. 
And the Jesus-type strong is grace. 
Years ago my ballet teacher told of feathery light movements, steps so soft and effortless looking - grace embodied. Peel back the feathers, she said, and underneath there is always strength hard as iron. Because grace is strong, and strength is shown by grace. 

The strongest kind of strong is always and only embodied like Jesus, grace Himself. 
Strong touched the lepers. Strong spoke with and loved sinners of the worst kind. Strong endured physical pain and torture without calling down vengeance from heaven. Strong hung dying a criminal's death and said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." 

Strong was grace. 

But the strongest kind of strong - this strong in grace? To the world it looks like weakness. Why are ballet dancers often portrayed as frilly, wimpy girls twirling and standing on their tippy-toes? Why are grace, vulnerability, and forgiveness thought of as qualities of a weakling? 
The answer is simple, spoken by Jesus himself: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." 

So to become truly strong - in grace - I must choose to disregard the voice of the world, of those who are strong without grace. And I'm making that choice again today, to shine strong on the inside by grace on the outside, touching the lepers in my life, loving the sinners, hanging forgiving when others do me wrong. Today I'm choosing to be strong in grace. 
How about you? 

November 26, 2013

Confidence, 101

    I felt really good going into my CLEP test today (those are tests that allow you to bypass college classes if you can pass just one long test on each subject... whoo-hoo!) I knew the material, and better yet, it came naturally to me. Even though I'd never taken a test that included two mandatory, timed essays before, I was more confident than ever before. Confident to the level I had not asked anyone to pray for me, or even prayed much myself about it. This will be easy, I thought. 
    Heart thumping out an excited rhythm, I settled in a swivel chair before a glowing screen, ready to plow this test out of the way. Clicking impatiently through screens of explanation, I waited for the first section of the test - a fifty question multiple choice test on grammar rules, editing, revising, and rhetorical analysis. It never came, and I soon found myself staring at a blinking cursor, beckoning me to write the first of two essays. Bewildered, I forced my eyes to slow their scanning and read "College Composition, Part 2" at the top of the screen. 
    The next thing I saw was my precious time, the half hour allotted for a five paragraph essay, draining like sand through my fingers. Wha...???? I thought. Why did it skip the whole first section of the test?
     Panic bubbling, I speed-walked for help and found that the help was unable to help. Somehow, I had expected the test to be formatted like previous ones, and had ignored some vital screens, accidentally skipping right past the whole first section.  It was blocked off with a great cyber wall; I was unable to go back. 
    I had clicked right past my strong point, and was faced with twenty four minutes ticking down: essays; write or die. Confused, I managed to eke out a nominal essay, and my second one was also less than amazing. Heart drooping, my test closed itself out. I had gotten a 0 score on the multiple choice section, and probably a mediocre one on the essay portion. Not enough to pass. 
    Turns out we may have to wait up to six months until we can drive an hour away to once more take College Composition, and I may or may not have to pay the $80.00 registration fee again. Yuck. 
    My mind lay stunned, stars swirling around my head like the pictures in old cartoons. This day totally, completely, 100% did not go the way I had planned, the way I had confidence in. So I wallowed. I wallowed in despair and pity, and blame of myself. Then I realized something... God is good. And He works out all things for the good of those who love Him. For my good. My good. So, God. What's up? You mean to tell me that you have something better in store for me than passing this test, first try? So my heart wiped its tears and lifted the corners of its mouth in confidence. This time, though, the confidence streamed straight from God. That's the good kind, my friends. And please, please, learn a lesson from my mistake - too much confidence in myself - and just find your confidence in the one who is the source of life. 

November 20, 2013


    If you asked me if I consider myself a perfectionist, I would say yes. And a couple years ago, when I developed a love for healthy food and herbal remedies, I never guessed that my perfectionist nature would mix with an onslaught of new "health food" and exercise information I've found from the Internet to create a problem.

    Do you know how confusing it is to have read at least ten different articles about the best way to handle exercise? Or how about reading tons of blog posts about getting fit - all written by fit people who took totally separate roads to get there? And then there are some who count every calorie they consume, while others advocate vitamins and supplements for health. Should I work out twice a week, every day, or not at all? And what exactly is the perfect "work out"? 

    As an impressionable young lady, all this information swirled around in my head, then manifested itself through my perfectionist tendencies and caused me to start worrying - about my image and weight. Although I was in the ideal weight range for a girl my age and height, for some reason I couldn't get out of my head the fact that I was still gaining weight. Prone to over-thinking, I managed to figure everything out - or so I thought. Forgetting the fact that I was still a teenager, and meant to grow in more ways than vertical, I decided to take pieces of advice from various older ladies floating around on the web and concoct my own fitness plan. While trying to exercise more, I tried to eat less "bad food" and ended up eating less of my mom's good, wholesome meals and more of my own smoothie concoctions. I started snacking between meals and tended to eat too much dessert and peanut butter (a weakness of mine) at random times. With all the changes I had subtly made, I didn't feel satisfied in my belly or my heart. On top of all that, I wasn't seeing the results I had secretly hoped for. 

    Instead of keeping my weight the same or less, I was startled to see that I was still gaining weight. Confused, I ended up confiding in my mom (best idea ever, by the way), and she asked me her go-to weight question: "well, do your pants still fit fine like before?" Yes, they did, I said. So we concluded that with all my exercising I was gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat), and that I was probably snacking too much. That said, my mom suggested I stop eating my mini meals and just eat more of her hearty ones less often. We also decided that I needed to put a stop to my "health research" on the Internet so I could focus on listening to my body instead of other's opinions.

    And you know what? I've realized through this process that my body isn't meant to be the weight I had set for myself as "ideal." And I have a feeling I'm not the only girl who this is true for. My heart hurts when I see girls who are far to concerned with their weight and appearance, and also when I see others who have let their weight get out of control. 

   Then there are the hidden gems that make my heart smile so big. Those are the ones few and far between who have found the balance of self-control and peace with how God made their bodies. Those are the girls who can say no to a second dessert but who don't sweat the first. Those are the girls who understand that a tiny waistline doesn't define beauty. Those are the girls who eat when they are hungry - not before, and not after. 

    Those girls know that beauty comes from inside, but self-control shows up on the outside. I respect them deeply because they understand how to glorify God with their bodies. They understand that there should be a balance between striving to be fit and just living life. That, my friends, is how I want be when I grow up. I don't care if I don't have a supermodel figure, if only I am beautiful on the inside. 'Cause it's the inside that counts, in God's book and mine. :D 
Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

November 12, 2013

Grocery List Holder Tutorial!

Now, I don't know what your families do as far as grocery lists go, but this brilliant (ahem) piece of ancient artwork has served the purpose and resided on our refrigerator for ages:
Beautiful, huh? ;) 
Well, yesterday I started REALLY early on my mom's Christmas present, and was so thrilled with the result that I had to give it to her early. Way early. :) Anyway, here is the finished product: a new and improved grocery list holder!
Much better than the old one, right? The exciting part is this... it's extremely easy to make! And I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited when I find a cool homemade gift to make for my mom... so you may want to keep quiet about this and have an early Christmas-gift-making session in the depths of your room! Let's get started, shall we? 

First, gather your supplies: 
pretty piece of paper the size you want your finished product to be
thicker piece of paper/card stock the same size
Scraps of paper in corresponding colors to your main paper
Glue stick/double sided tape/Elmer's glue
1-2 notepads
Knife (x-acto knives work well)  
Magnets (strips or circles) 
Glue gun
Fancy punches, string, sparkles, embellishments, etc. (optional)

1. Glue/attach both large pieces of paper together. The strong one is merely to give the pretty one extra support.
2. Lay out your design. Personally, I wanted two notebooks, and I staggered them to strengthen the design and paper.
3. Measure the width of each of your notebooks, and mark on the back of the contraption how wide the notebooks are. You will be cutting a slit through the paper to stick the stiff back of the notebooks through, but you don't necessarily want to cut a slit where you want the top of the notebook to go, so get familiar with your notebooks so you know exactly how they will hang when you stick the back of the notebook through the page. 
4. Cut slits through the page that are the same width as the back of your notebooks, and try to fit the backs through. If they're too tight, cut the slits a tiny bit wider. 
5. You may want to tape/glue the backs down... I did on my smaller notebook.
5. Glue labels, tags, embellishments, and anything you like on to make it pretty!
6. Use a glue gun to attach magnets to the top two corners and a pen. Originally, I was going to tie a string to the pen and attach that to a magnet, but my little sister (brilliant sidekick that she is) suggested doing it this way, which I like a lot better. :) 
That's it! I'd love to know if you try this, and how it turns out!

November 5, 2013

Gossamer Trails

    This is honestly the third blog post I've started today. Just not feeling the creative word juices flowing, but that's okay. I've done plenty of writing in this past week... like a seven page "personal plan for leadership" for a college class. Three thousand, four hundred and forty-one painstaking words. So glad it's over with, yet I loved writing it. One of those things that stretch a person in a good way, I guess. :P
    Now I'm studying for a College Composition CLEP test, and will be writing 2-4 essays each day for the next few weeks for practice... so, yeah. Pray for me!!!

Do you know what that is? 

Yup. Spiderwebs! Believe it or not, that was what out backyard looked like one morning a week or so ago. It was one of those "wow" mornings. 

Can you imagine? That was either a huge shindig of an Arachnid-party, or hours and hours and hours of crawling. 

    It's beautiful, but also a poignant image to roll around in our heads: what if all the words we spoke trailed out behind us as we lived our lives? Would the world behind us be beautiful or shamefully ugly, decked out in words never to be erased? In a way, we actually do leave a record - in the lives of those who hear us. The Bible commands followers of Jesus to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. We are to only speak words, to only leave trails to build up and benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29) Were the the lives of the last five people you spoke to made more beautiful because of the web of words you wove around them? 
    I know I'm feeling convicted right now, as I write. I may never see spider webs the same way again! They are a fantastical reminder to only leave shimmering gorgeousness behind me as I speak my way through life. Because, truly, our words stick around. 
    Friends, make someone's life beautiful today because of the words you weave. 

November 1, 2013

Operation Chipmunk Child

How many of you want to put a huge smile on a needy kid's face this Christmas? Anyone want to spread the Gospel? And last but not least... do you love Duck Dynasty? Well, friend. Now that we have identified all your hidden desires, you'd better hop on over to Samaritan's Purse and check out a crazy-funny video featuring Uncle Si here!
Now do you understand "Operation Chipmunk Child"? Thought so. ;)

Will you join me in Operation Christmas Child? If you want more info, invade their website or ask me some questions! 

Many churches I know of provide shoeboxes and packing labels, making it super easy to give some Jesus-joy this Christmas. Pack a shoebox, Jack!

October 27, 2013

Made For This

    Dark, indigo chill-breath filled the stables as I creaked open the wooden chest-high gate. Still bright stars defied the clock, six fifty-five a.m. The cold frosted itself across October, light seemingly scared to edge the eastern fields. At the call of the ATV rumble, horses trudged into dim stable light, one by one then all at once they came. Alex, Okie, Michael, Dandy. One by one halters fumbled, slipped on, tippy-toe tall. Gloved fingers caught burrs from manes, and eyes squinted to decipher names through strong morning black. Sundae, Watson, Faye, Buttercup, Harmony. Legs, necks, manes, and tails milling deep in the dawn. Horses a hundred deep. Dawn grew with each horse it caught, turned on one more ray of hopeful light. Okie, crazy girl, she pulled back and snapped her half-inch thick rope. The wide-eyed one, she walked briskly away. Faye, she was standing, confused, tied at Trentin's spot. The dawn had played switcheroo with black pony and brown. Someone caught Tinkerbell, a huge beast of a horse. Hoofs like dinner plates, and a massive heavy head. Tinkerbell. Dawn struggled warm, but not warm enough. I banged open a rusty locker and stuffed gloves double thick. The day, it shivered along. Thankful layers, ice cold toes at lunch. Wind that bit slowly and surely, into the warmth I hugged. The sun turned sulky and stood with folded arms behind a great grayness of clouds. Trees bent, surrendering warm glowing leaves to the whims of whipping wind.
    To be honest with you, I had no spiritual lesson behind all that writing I just did. I wrote because I loved it. Those words, I enjoyed bringing them to life. I savored each sentence, reveling in the strange beauty they own. When I write, I feel truly alive. Unlike when I talk. Let me tell you, about half of the time when I'm in a "social" setting I feel like a fish out of water. Awkward. That would be me. Or that's how I feel, anyway. So I write. And just like brilliant speakers and preachers, I can serve God with my gift. So I write. 

I once heard that the way a creation brings honor to it's creator is by doing what it was created to do. 

    Ever heard of a carpenter rejoicing because the table he'd crafted decided it's purpose was to be firewood? What about an artist smiling as she watched her painting rip itself into shreds, convinced it was meant to be paper mâché? 
No, friends. You were meant to be what you were meant to be. I was created a writer; not a speaker, not a singer, not a fashion model. 
You are a beautifully crafted creation, made with breathtaking care to fulfill a journey of a lifetime. Don't miss your sweet spot. Do what you were created to do. Be what you were created to be.
And if you don't know what that is yet, hang on. Hold your creator tightly by the hand and move forward. As you probably know, it's extremely hard to steer a stationary vessel. So whatever you do, keep moving. 
Do what you love to do, and do it for the glory of your creator. Especially do the things that return energy to you. Like my writing? Afterwards I feel like running around the house and grinning my heart out. Energy? Poured out. But then it was back again. Energy returned. 

So friends. That's about it for the week... just remember this: be who you were created to be by doing what you we created to do. That is how you can bring glory to your creator. 

What are your giftings? Art, math, cooking, speaking, building, cello, encouraging, a fashion eye, gymnastics.... what? 
How do you use them to honor your creator? I'd love to hear your stories! 

October 23, 2013

Ramblings of Resources

   Today I'm going to share with you some inspiration to make the most of your resources! I've been taking a leadership class, and this week is focusing in on stewardship of finances and opportunities. As some of you know, I'm extremely fond of making the most out of what I already have. I'm the rare type of girl who actually hates to spend money (which means I don't like shopping for clothes... or shoes), so I always get excited when I learn of one more thing I can make myself, with the resources I already have. Here are a few of my recent ideas! 

1. Pumpkin pie. :D But for real, people, if you're given an opportunity to get something you will use for free, take it! I worked this fall/summer at a produce farm, and found out that they can't sell pie pumpkins with the stem broken off. (When the stem is gone the pumpkins don't keep as long... quality control, ya know) so imagine my delight when they allow the employees to take home as many of these misfit pumpkins as they want! I, of course, carted quite a few home and have already made a bunch of pies. With real pumpkins! And they are HEAVENLY!!!! Let me know if you want a post with the recipe and tutorial about using real pumpkins!


2. The garden. I know it's late in the season, but yesterday I brushed past our still-green basil and acquired a pungent desire for homemade pesto. So I made some. :) Another way to use our garden (which is run over with weeds by now) is to use it as a play pen/salad bar for our chickens. Poor things, they have started to lay less eggs as it's getting cooler, and a couple hours each day spent roaming the garden jungle would probably not only make them wild with excitement, but might get us a few more eggs each day! 

Those chickens are happy, happy, happy!

3. The Internet. This one is kind of obvious, but the Internet is an amazing resource for learning things and getting the word out for Christ. I've learned so many new skills from Pinterest and the Internet in general, such as how to cook a real pumpkin for pumpkin pies, roasting pumpkin seeds, lots of new recipes, sewing tips, and lots more. This one is hard to balance, though. Many times I treat the Internet as too much of an amusement rather than a tool.

   For those of you without pumpkins, gardens or chickens, I hope this inspires you to keep your eyes open for resources you already have that may be pushed into a corner. Sometimes God calls us to buy things, but sometimes He shows us ways to give more money to His kingdom (mission work and the church) by making do with the riches in disguise we already have! 

   I'm sure you have come up with lots of creative ways to use your resources as well, and I'd love to hear about them! Leave me a comment with things you've done or new ideas for the future!

October 15, 2013

Just One Thing

Guys. I have to share this! Yesterday I learned something new... that Jesus actually wasn't in a hurry. Let me say that again: Jesus wasn't in a hurry. Mind. Blown. 

He had just three years to complete His ministry, yet the Bible never mentions His schedule. This God-in-flesh had the power to cure everyone of disease, yet He did not. He did virtually nothing the world expected of Him. What's up with that? 
I think I know. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think it's because Jesus was about His Father's business. Period. Jesus, He was never in a hurry, never flustered, because God never asked Him to multitask. Just love, God said. Just love. So Jesus loved. 
And sometimes loving means caring enough about others to not care about yourself, your schedule. 
Sometimes loving means healing just a few hearts, a few souls, instead of all the bodies in the world. 
Sometimes love, it means seeing the world with eternity eyes and digging for deeper treasure than the mere expectations of this world. 

Jesus had a higher calling, a different voice to follow. His Father, our Father, He said just love. Jesus' life was infinitely simple. He had one calling. And He choose to listen to just that voice. And He obeyed. Jesus, He loved His life away. Simple as 1,2,3. Called, listened, obeyed. Jesus, He did everything on this earth, made a whole world of difference, by not doing everything.

Boy do I need to learn that lesson! My life would be free, daring, peaceful, mind-blowing, joyous, and unexpected if I listened to my Father's voice and obeyed. My life, it would be just like Jesus'. 
What would your life look like if you tuned your ear to the Father's calling, to just love? Can you imagine the freedom of giving schedules and agendas to the Father who crafted time? 
My life desperately needs this tune-up, this tuning in to the Father's whisper. Just love. Forget appearances, forget status, forget everything want to do. To just love. It's so simple, my friends. Will you join me? Please? And just because, I'm throwing out this picture of our crazy puppy. Just because she has a heart on her back. You'll have to spin your head around to see it, 'cause it's upside down, but I had to show you all. :)

I know God put that heart there on purpose. Probably because He loved, and Jesus loved, and He wants us to do this one thing. Just love.

P.S. Would you all kindly take the little poll on the left sidebar? I want to know what you all wish to hear more about either on this blog or maybe even in person (for a few of you :D)!

October 8, 2013

Operation Skittles

I've had an idea rolling around in my head a lot lately. It's an idea of community. Of encouragement. Of accountability. Of the body of Christ. 
In a few words, it's Operation Skittles. Before you label me as crazy, let me remind you that girls can get rather nonsensical at times. And I'm a girl. With girlfriends. So when three of us girls got together and started an unofficial accountability club, it was out of the question to christen it something normal. If you get my drift. ;) 

So my two best friends and I did something totally abnormal, maybe even absurd, for three teenagers. We got together to talk about our God lives. I was thrilled to know that I had two sisters in Christ who cared enough about each other to just randomly come over and let down their comfort bumpers, to 'fess up, and to get real about our daily temptations. 

I don't know how long we talked, outside on the white glider swing. One by one we cracked open the doors to our hearts and let each other in. Because sometimes, friends, our hearts get sick and heavy feeling. Sometimes the best way to loose the chains is to share our burdens, like it says in God's word.  So I listened. To temptations and sins and battles and uncertainties. And I hugged, eyes welling full of the hurt one was feeling. And I talked, like the others, sharing my burdens too. God seemed so real in those moments, because I felt Him in the miracle of troubles shared and evaporated. My heart grew light, filled with bubbling joy, peace, and trust. Cracking open our hearts let the trouble fade with sharing. Cracking open our hearts let in God's light. Then, with smiling hearts,we laughed, and imagined, and fantasized... about what our futures will hold. 
When the shade finally turned cool, we repaired to my room where we wrote our daily temptations down, each keeping the struggles of the others. That hurt, a bit. Letting others in on the sins I battle daily, and giving them permission to ask about them later... that stings at first. Because I know I won't always have a good report. Those sins they wrote down to remember are my weakest areas. But you know what? In order to heal a wound you need to clean it first. And that hurts. In the end, though, it's always worth it... the discomfort is always overruled by the healing it brings. 
So I'm hoping with a strange hope that my girlfriends stay true to Operation Skittles - that they keep me accountable, out in the open. Because I know that it will bring healing and make me stronger in the end. So I'm praying that the girls bring on the interrogations next time we meet! 

I want to challenge every one of you to get excited about Jesus, about the body of Christ, and about accountability. How to get excited, you ask? Make another Operation Skittles! 

I hereby challenge you to connect with one or two Christians you are close to. Talk on the phone, face to face, or by email. Let your secret fears out. Push past the comfort zone and find the growing zone. Tell each other your struggles and temptations. Write them down and keep each other accountable! And give it a name! Operation M&M, maybe? Or Operation Gummy Bears? Oreos? Name it something sweet to reflect the reward it will bring!

What name did you choose? How will you connect with your Christian Cohorts? 
I'd love follow ups, too - were you able to open up, and how did it feel? 

September 30, 2013

Eating My Nuts and Whey

You know what? When I started this blog I expected it to be mostly about healthy stuff and homemade food and sewing projects... 'cause that's what I like. But somehow that didn't happen... and this blog has been mostly about my everyday life and struggles and God moments. And you know what? I like it that way! But I also think I'd like it if I posted about healthy recipies, herbs, or homemade projects once in a while - things that weren't so deep. :) So, maybe once a month? After you've read my first try at a tutorial, I'd love feedback about how often you'd like more of the same!

Remember in my last post when I mentioned that I was getting braces? And you know how I'm not supposed to be eating nuts while I have braces? And you didn't know before, but now you know - that raw nuts are one of my snacking staples. So. I introduce to you perfectly raw cashew butter!

Being the health nut I am, I often try to squeeze as much nutrition out of a dish as is possible without ruining the taste. So of course I soak my cashews to break down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors before turning them into nut butter. But guess what? We happened to have almost a quart of sweet whey in the fridge from making homemade greek yogurt.

If soaking grains in whey makes them more nutritious,I thought, then why not sub whey for the water when soaking the cashews before making the nut butter? 

It was worth a try, right? My only fear was that it would ruin the taste, so I did the cautious thing and soaked part of the cashews in water and some in whey. 

I let them soak for about two hours, then drained the nuts and parked by the food processor as I impatiently watched the nuts look like this: 

Then like this: 

And finally like this:

It took a long time. And I had to stop the food processor every so often to scrape down the sides, too. The first batch - which I had soaked with water - was rather bland, so I added a couple pinches of Celtic sea salt (use whatever type of salt you have) as I was finishing up. It never got quite velvety smooth, but I did learn one thing: after draining the nuts, try to blot up as much liquid as possible; this prevents a funny oil vs. water texture I got on my first batch ('cause the nuts produced oil when they we chopped up). It ended up like this:

And it tasted fine! I'm glad I added the salt, though. ;)

The batch that had been soaked in whey actually had a nice, almost salty taste - to my complete surprise - and so I left it plain, without salt. 

I thought the two batches tasted nearly the same, so I'll definitely use whey (if we have it on hand) the next time I soak nuts! 

How far would you go to add a little nutrition to your food?