Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"I must die."

This blog has taken a different turn lately, eh? It's been a while since I've written a post about something little like the way icicles form on street signs or something delicious like a new recipe I've tried. For some reason I've wanted to write about the stuff God is teaching me. I feel like he's really been laying it on thick lately so I thought I'd share some more.

I've mentioned before that my friend April and I are (slowly) going to through the book A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. I have been convicted, in the best, most gracious way that only God can convict, that even though I don't want to admit it, I'm living for the world, not Christ and his kingdom. I've been reading about how the gospel isn't just a story of Christ's crucifixion but also the story of my own crucifixion. Here are some bits and pieces from the book because he says it way better than I ever could... why reinvent the wheel.

"The Bible tells me that I, too, was crucified on Christ's cross. My old self was slain there, and my love affair with the world was crucified there too."

"He insists that every hour be my dying hour, and He wants my death on the cross to be as central to my own life story as is Christ's death to the gospel story."

"Crucifixion hurts. In fact, its heart-wrenching brutality can numbs the senses. It is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. It is not merely death, but excruciating death."

"I should expect every day to encourage circumstantial evidence of God's commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be confirmed more fully to Christ's death, no matter the pain involved."

"These facts surrounding Christ's resurrection stand as proof positive that God will not leave me for dead, but will raise me similarly, if I would only allow myself to die."

This was one of the things that hit me hardest... It's so practical and relevant and shows me where I'm really struggling with dying to myself.

"When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don't want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When wanting to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die."

"Not my will, but Yours be done."

This is what I'm learning. God's patiently chipping away at my sin... There's nothing "nice, pretty, or easy about it" - it's an "excruciating death" - but it's what needs to be done to help grow me into the godly woman I was created to be.

"So, come what may, I'll let no one take this death from me!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy to the world!

Today was Christmas! I love Christmas. I love the traditions, the food, the gifts, the songs, the lights, the family... I love it all. This year felt a little different than most though. New people in the family, hard stuff going on in the world, some traditions being broken... I found myself feeling a little sad as I drove to my aunt and uncle's house for our traditional Christmas dinner. I was sad because I have made Christmas this sacred (unfortunately a secular version of sacred) thing in my head and I was really down when the reality didn't live up to the expectations. There I was, driving down 435, getting teary on the highway because my Christmas day wasn't everything I'd hoped.

Then "Joy To The World" came on the radio... and it hit me, smacked me in the face actually, that today (and every day) should be a day of joy because God sent his son Jesus to this earth to live, die, and be resurrected to save us! That's what Christmas is all about... Not about tradition, or family, or friends, or gifts, or any kind of perfection. It's about God fulfilling his promises and the birth of Christ and what that ultimately means for our salvation. That's something to be joyful about!

So there I was, driving down 435, still getting teary but for reasons of joy. Christ was born and that's something to celebrate! God was gracious enough to send me this gentle reminder on my drive today so I thought I'd pass it on just in case your Christmas day didn't go as you had hoped and you needed a gentle reminder as well.

I hope today was a Christmas day full of joy celebrating the birth of our gracious, wonderful Savior. And if it wasn't, it's not too late... 

Merry Christmas!

(PS The version of Joy To The World That I was listening to is by Paul Baloche and it's a really good one. I included the cheesy YouTube video and lyrics, just for kicks.)

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
heaven and nature sing,
let heaven and nature sing,
let heaven and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

Hear the joyful sound of our offering
as Your saints bow down, as Your people sing.
We will rise with You, lifted on Your wings,
and the world will see that:

Our God saves, our God saves.
There is hope in Your name.
Mourning turns to songs of praise;
our God saves, our God Saves.

You rule the world with trust and grace,
and make the nations prove
the glories of Your righteousness,
the wonders of Your love,
the wonders of Your love,
the wonders, wonders of Your love. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas cards.

I've received a few Christmas cards over the last few weeks. This is nothing new... I've gotten Christmas cards in the past... but something must be in the air this year because every time I've received one I've been overcome with how lucky/fortunate/blessed I am to have all these wonderful people in my life. Family, friends from college, friends from this stage of life... God has surrounded me with some pretty incredible people and these Christmas cards with their beautiful faces have been great reminders.

I hope your Christmas cards are bringing to a place of thankfulness and joy like they have been for me.

(Less than a week until the big day!)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas is coming!

Man, a lot has happened in the last month since I wrote my "joy not found in our circumstances" post. God has really made me practice what I preached... Can't say I've been rock solid through the last month... not even close. But I sure am glad I've got Jesus. That's all I can say...

On a lighter note, the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are now in the Christmas season and I've been loving it. Here are a few things I've been loving lately:

Yes, I know, everyone loves their Christmas tree... but I really love my Christmas tree. Any excuse to have white lights on all the time is a good thing in my eyes.

Speaking of Christmas lights - I put some out on our porch this weekend. Normally I'm all about the classy white but I decided to get crazy and went with colored. Whaaaat? Watch out Mansions Apartments - we're festive.

I made the mistake of trying Talenti gelato about a month ago and I'm really regretting it... It's dangerous. 1. It's expensive. 2. It's delicious. 3. It comes in tiny containers so you feel like you can eat the whole thing when you truly shouldn't. 4. I bought the Old World Eggnog variety this time - and I'm a fan.

People at work call me a hipster. Clearly they've never been to Austin or anywhere remotely hipster-ish but I'm not very hipster. I do love me some Sufjan Stevens though (I'm not even sure he's hipster anymore - if I was hipster, I would know.) His Christmas album(s) is one of my favorites.

I get to wrap gifts! I've wrapped every gift I've purchased so far and I'm eagerly waiting for the rest of them to come in the mail. I asked Josh tonight, "Do you have any gifts I can wrap for you?" Yep, I'm that great... :)

Most importantly, it's advent season. A lot of you may not know much about advent, but it's not just one of those calendars where you get to eat a piece of chocolate every day leading up to Christmas. It's actually a time to focus and prepare your hearts for the coming of Christ. I got to help with the advent service my church put on a few weeks ago and it was quite possibly one of the coolest things I've been a part of. Advent. Christ coming to the earth to live, die, and be resurrected for our sins. Now that's something to get excited about...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Circumstances while searching for peace.

God's been really smacking me in the face lately... in the best way possible. It's been one of those weeks where I feel like he keeps showing me the same thing over and over again but every time I hear it I'm like, "Oh yeah..." I wish it would stick, but I'm a sinner and it hasn't, so I'm thankful for the constant reminders...

My happiness, peace, contentment, etc. will never be found in my circumstances... it will only be found in Him. 

It first came at church this past Sunday. Our pastor preached about how following Jesus brings supernatural peace from God. Things of this world give us a counterfeit peace and we will only get real peace from Jesus. That's the quick version. :) (Here's the long version if you want to listen.)

Then last night I was reading this book called The Gospel Primer and there was a section about Perspective In Trials. It said, "More than anything else could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefits from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me." That's good stuff! I love that God is a god of redemption - and that He doesn't just let crappy stuff happen, but He uses it.

Then this morning I was listening to one of my new favorite songs "It Is Well" by Bethel. And the lyrics are just powerful... "Through it all my eyes are on you. Through it all it is well." No matter the circumstance - through it all - it is well.

I've also been trying to memorize Philippians 4:4-7 this week. It's basically perfect. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Rejoice - it says!

What I'm learning is that I need to let go. As Bethel's song says, "So let go, my soul, and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name." The waves and wind, the crappy (or even fantastic) circumstances will come and go, but Jesus will remain, and He'll use those gosh darn waves and wind. But with Him comes peace. He promises it.

I am thankful for a God who doesn't give up on me. Who keeps growing me and teaching me and loving me. How undeserving yet thankful am I.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


($25 regular, $27 vintage)

It's been a while, eh? Not a lot has been going on... other than the fact that our beloved Kansas City Royals won the World Series this week! It's pretty much all our entire city can think or talk about... we're a bit excited.

If you, too, are excited about the Royals and would like to get yourself a really cool shirt that few other people have, you should probably check out this shirt that my brother Cory designed. The way the website that he put it on works is that he had to sell at least 12 shirts to have it produced... 25 to make any money. He was just hoping it would get produced and he made it to 12... and is well beyond that. (Currently 46 purchases!) It's available for a limited time - but it's a pretty neat shirt and is on a high quality t-shirt. Check it out!

Go Royals! Get it here!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Not so chili-like chili...

Not to sound like a broken record... but something in me comes alive in the fall. I don't know what it is - but I love pretty much everything about it. Today has felt more like fall than any other day this year so needless to say... my heart is pretty happy.

The weather is a little cooler so I wore boots for the first time! I also stopped by Yankee Candle and bought a couple of fall-smelling candles (Harvest and Apple Pumpkin, in case you were curious...) AND, I decided to make a pot of one of the soups that I blogged about a few weeks ago. Let me tell you about it...

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili

1. This soup is delicious but I didn't get that much of a "chili-vibe" from it. I actually looked up the definition of chili to see if this qualifies because I was convinced it didn't. According to the Merriam-Webster definition chili is "a spicy dish made of ground beef, hot peppers or chili pepper, and usually beans." So... I was wrong - this actually fit the definition of chili exactly except for the beans part. Which is why this recipe threw me off. There are no beans.
2. It's technically "paleo." I don't go for all that crazy (unsustainable) diet mumbo jumbo... But if you're into the paleo thing - this recipe is for you.
3. It has ground beef in it. I've probably cooked with beef once in the last 3 years. Today is time numero dos - but it added something different to my normally white meat filled diet and I was pleased!
4. It also has ground turkey in it. The recipe called for ground chicken but that was $3 more expensive so I opted for turkey instead. #cheapo
5. It called for goat cheese but I decided that I didn't need the extra calories so I left it out and it tasted just fine.
6. It also called for avocado - I decided I did need those extra calories so I left it in and it was wonderful. (Just remembered I forgot to add the green onions - dang, that would have been good!)
7. It's called "jalapeño popper" chili but the only thing reminiscent of a jalapeño popper is the chopped up jalapeños I put in it... No cream cheese. No bacon. But still pretty fantastic.
8. It's a slow cooker recipe. I have a love hate relationship with slow cooker recipes... But again, if you're into that kind of thing - this is a recipe for you!

Anyway, I'd highly recommend this chili-like soup thing. It's meaty (my dad would love it), multi-dimensional, healthy, and interesting (the good kind of interesting.) You should make it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy Fall... a week later.

I am super late in posting this... but happy fall! Last Wednesday was officially the first day of fall and it was lovely. In preparation for the first day of fall I had a Fall Eve party on Tuesday night... (I'm super cool, I know.)

I bought candy corn and peanuts.

Baked with pumpkin. (I made these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting to take to work.)

Listened to the You've Got Mail soundtrack and dreamt of bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils. (If you aren't a You've Got Mail fan, you probably think I'm crazy. But if you are, then you totally get it.)

And decorated our apartment for fall.

It was a lovely evenly...

The next morning my boyfriend Josh woke up early and surprised me with a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks before I left for work. He kept saying "It's your day!" like the first day of fall was my birthday or something... I'm thankful for him and I'm thankful for fall!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Soup weather... maybe a little premature.

It's September. I know that fall doesn't officially start until September 23rd. But my fall wreath is up and as I told Josh, "It's September. So fall has begun in my heart." With fall comes a lot of great things - many things that I have previously blogged about and that I will blog about again... because that's what I do. Today though... Today I want to focus on soups.

I love soup. Not sure why, but I do. So here are some of my tried and true soup recipes and some that I am excited to try this year.

My Favorites:
Chicken Pot Pie Soup (Skinnytaste)

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (Taste of Home)

Mulligatawny (my version aka Jessie's version OR Pioneer Woman's version) ... beware your house will smell like curry for days...

My Favorites To Be (Hopefully):
Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili (Skinnytaste)

Curried Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Gimme Some Oven)

I'm also pretty determined to find a good butternut squash soup recipe, so if you've got one... send it my way! (Maybe this one?)

Also, looking for a perfect chicken enchilada soup recipe... Maybe someday?

Alright, I suppose that's all for now!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A rough day turned better.

I got in a mini car accident the other day. It wasn't anything major... Someone ran into me in the parking garage at work because they were looking at their phone and took the corner too wide. Lots of calls to the insurance companies, a few hours of panicking, and a lot of verbal processing later - everything is fine. Her insurance is covering (all $3200 of) it and I'm driving a rental until it's fixed. It really worked out quite well for me...

The day of I was pretty stressed though. And at 10:00 I hear a knock on my door and it's Josh... with some yellow mums ("The store didn't have sunflowers so this is as close as I could get." Um, mums will do just fine!) and honey crisp apples. It kind of made my day...

Pretty blessed to have a God who protected me and a boyfriend who knows me well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Beauty on a rainy day.

 (Beauty on a rainy day.)

It rained today. It hasn't rained in a while so you would have thought I would have been ok with it. 1. We needed it. 2. It is supposed to bring in a cool front (I love cool fronts in the summer!) 3. It is only supposed to last one day.

But alas, I was grumpy, as I am grumpy on most rainy days. No excuses. I shouldn't have been grumpy. But I was. I remember one time reading a book that basically said in a much more eloquent way, "You've got control over your emotions. Stop acting like you are stuck in a bad mood - you can change that." But I chose to stay in a bad mood pretty much all day. No excuses. I shouldn't have. But I did. (Except for about 1 hour when the sun came out, miraculously my bad attitude went away. Yes, I'm ridiculous.)

One of the things that I do when I'm grumpy is drive. I decided to drive out to my favorite spot, as I often do, even though it was raining. Driving is good thinking, praying, singing... time. So that's what I did. Thought, prayed, and sang... And I was doing that, I came across a new, and equally as beautiful, view on my drive.

All I've got to say is that I'm thankful that God reveals his beauty to me even when I'm grumpy for no good reason. I don't deserve a God like him... but I'm thankful he sticks with me.

(The normal view... I still love it.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Big 2-8.

I turned 28 on Saturday. It's funny how each year you feel so much older. I wonder at what point in life that stops. Someday I'll look back on myself thinking "I'm in my late twenties. That's old." and just laugh at how ridiculous I sounded.

I was at a ladies retreat with my church all day Saturday but everyone made me feel incredibly special. I woke up and my friend Megan climbed into my bunk at the retreat and read me a poem she wrote from her daughter's perspective. Pretty much the best way to wake up on your birthday, I'd say. Here's Meg when I got the honor of painting with her later that afternoon. She's one talented girl...

Then I headed to breakfast and was greeted by a special delivery that my boyfriend Josh had organized - sunflowers and a nice note. He was even out of town all week so he really had to plan ahead. I'm pretty lucky... (Should have taken a picture of this but I didn't...)

All day everyone at the retreat was very kind, wished me happy birthday, sang, etc. And as if that wasn't enough - they got a cake! I'm lucky to have people that love me so well.

The next day I went to lunch with my parents, brother Cory, and sister-in-law (it's still weird to say that, but I love it) Erica. Mexican food - that's the key to my heart. We opened gifts and watched the National Gymnastics Championship because you could see Josh on the sidelines since he was working the competition. My family humored me and my excitement to see Josh on TV and watched with me. They really made the day special...

Then, I went to dinner with my friend Kim. Houlihan's gives you a free meal for your birthday if someone else buys a meal so it's been a tradition that we bring each other for our Houlihan's birthday meals. I love this tradition.

As if that weren't enough, today Josh got back in town so I took a half day and we went to lunch at a place in the East Bottoms called Pigwich, got coffee downtown at Thou Mayest, then went and saw a movie. It was a great day with him...

I finished off the birthday weekend with dinner with friends tonight. Meg made a delicious chicken curry and got some fun cupcakes! A simple dinner with some of my closest friends was exactly how I would choose to wrap up my birthday.

I didn't write all this to say, "Hey, look at me on my birthday!" I wrote to say that I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people who love me the way that they do. I am blown away by the weekend and the people in my life.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My favorite spot.

I don't really know what it is... but I like to drive. I especially like to drive with the windows down. With the music up. Around sunset. I do this quite often... It's weird, I know. But it's me. One time while driving I found this spot right outside of Independence that is a road lined with a long, white fence and perfectly placed trees overlooking this beautifully, Kansas-like field... and the sunset.

It's my favorite spot.

I've started going there more frequently. Not really sure why... But these summer nights are dwindling and I'm soaking up the last bit I can... and the best way to do that, is at my favorite spot.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fun pictures.

My boyfriend Josh likes to joke with me about how I say things are "fun" a lot - and not exactly in the correct use of the word. "That's a fun outfit." "What a fun coffee shop!" "This song is really fun..." Most people use the word like: "We had fun." "It is going to be a fun time." etc... So maybe I use fun in a not so grammatically correct way, but I'm ok with it.

In honor of Josh, and my misuse of the word, I thought I'd show you some "fun" (and random) pictures that I've taken lately...

Flowers from my brother Joel's wedding last week.

 One of the best batches of peaches I've had in a long time. Thank you, Price Chopper.

Mr. Fun himself (and other friends) acting deep in front of the art museum.

Turns out me and the shuttlecocks wore matching outfits (obviously, I didn't take this one...) 

The obligatory "feet in sand" picture from my trip to the Bahamas a few weeks ago.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Long work.

Seems like I'm trending to blog about once or twice a month these days. That's pretty bad... But I'm here now - so... let's do this!

So my brother Joel has this friend Ben who also happens to a semi-famous musician. I may or may not follow Ben on Twitter, and today he tweeted about a blog post that his wife, Hillary, wrote. It piqued my interest so I read it and wow, it was great!

Hillary is a gardener (among other things...), and she basically compared gardening to life. The title of her post was One Thing We Often Forget About Creating a Masterpiece. It was all about how wonderful things (like gardening...) take time. In a world of shortcuts and instant gratification, many good things you have to wait for and persevere through. "I'm afraid we'll lose our appetites for things that can only be made by perseverance and hope and imagination applied over a long period," she said. This really struck a chord with me because I can struggle to want it all right now (I'm sure I'm the only one that struggles with this...) To sum it up, she said:
Growing things that are beautiful and healthy is long work. 
I'd recommend reading the whole post (because she said things way more eloquently than I ever could) but this really challenged me today, in the best way possible. It reminded me that some of the best things, the most beautiful and healthy, are worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Once: The Musical.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

One of my favorite movies in college was the movie Once. To be honest, the story is pretty slow but the music is great so it ends up being pretty fun to watch! Five years ago they made the movie into a Broadway musical and since then I've wanted to see it. A couple weeks ago the musical came to Kansas City at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and I went to go see it with my boyfriend Josh and some friends of ours...

...and it was incredible! We were in the second row and it was amazing to be that close. The production itself was pretty simple - the same set the whole time and not a lot of action. But the music... it was amazing. One of the good and bad things about sitting so close is that you were super close to the actors/musicians. There were quite a few times I caught myself staring mesmerized, enchanted by the music and then all of a sudden make eye contact with one of the actors. Awkward. :)

Overall, it was one of those evenings that just made me happy. It tapped into the creative, musical, relational, artistic, etc.... parts of my heart. It was just a good night.

The actors played music on the stage before the show and since the set was a pub, the 
audience could come on stage and get a drink while they were playing. Unique, for sure. 

Josh and I and our friends Carrie and Jason - don't we look famous? No, not really?

He's one of my favorites.