Sunday, August 21, 2011

Refocus

"Every second is an opportunity for praise. There is a choosing to be made. A choosing at each moment. This is the Praise Habit. Finding God moment by revelatory moment, in the sacred and the mundane, in the valley and on the hill, in triumph and tragedy, and living praise erupting because of it. This is what we were made for."
- David Crowder, Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets & Sushi


God is GOOD. Over the past few months I have been attempting to turn my focus to the more positive rather than the negative because I realize how blessed I am. Of course, I've failed, and daily too. But my attempt and attitude are trying to be in the right place. My eyes and heart have been opened and softened through this process. I have seen God working in so many areas of my life and in the lives of those I love and encounter. I have been surprised by God's blessings and sovereignty in my life. I have been focusing on my study of the Bible (again failing, but still learning). I can feel a difference in my heart, in my soul, in my daily life.


I also have been focusing on my temple - my body - this temporary home for my soul that God has given me. I have failed to take care of it the way I should over the past five years. I finally just looked in the mirror one day and said, "I can't live like this any longer!" That was a little less than two months ago and I am now 16 pounds lighter! I feel SO different. I feel happier, more refreshed, lighter, focused. Of course chocolate anything is my weakness, but I really am making the strides to correct my diet and dedicate time to exercise.

I think that with a refocus of mind and body I am on the right path to refocus my praise and heart. I have a great walking/jogging partner, an excitement for this life change that I hope cannot be quenched, and a God that provides strength when my legs are wobbly from muscle focus or pushing hard to finish that last leg of a running lap. Praise the Lord for that encouragement, excitement, and strength! I have two more short term goals: 10 pounds lost by the end of September, and then 15 more by December. Please be in prayer for me and my focus!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Steps.

"There are a lot of small steps between big decisions and big results."

Guess that means we need some comfortable shoes. Anything worthwhile, in my opinion, requires some sort of commitment. I easily can commit to things that benefit others, but rarely do I commit to things that benefit solely me.

According to my Jung Typology personality profile, this is me: They are very giving people, who get a lot of their personal satisfaction from the happiness of others. They want to be appreciated for who they are, and what they give. They're very sensitive to others, and freely give practical care. They will most likely be the kindest, most generous souls who will gladly give you the shirt off of their back without a second thought. For these individuals, the selfless quality of their personality type is genuine and pure.

That pretty much sums me up. Here lately I have been trying to do some things for myself. One of which is working out and feeling better. I woke up too many mornings not happy with the lack of care I had given to my body in the past year, decided to stop complaining about it, and make a commitment to do something about it. In the past month and a half, I have put forth a serious effort to watch what I am eating, cutting back certain foods and portion sizes, walking/jogging more frequently, and doing crunches, lunges (which I am convinced are from Satan himself), and squats (ditto). I can tell a difference in my day to day energy level, minus the extreme soreness from the Satan exercises (lunges and squats). I feel a difference in my clothes. I generally just feel better. I can say that I am proud of my hard work and my level of motivation. Yes, I have messed up and had one too many pieces of chocolate or a Cherry Coke Zero here and there. But there's always a new day, always an opportunity for a new start. That's also what grace does. Our lives will not be without failure, but it's our motivation, our attitudes that count.

"The more difficult the journey, the more rewarding the destination."


Monday, August 8, 2011

Rainbow cupcakes.

One of my favorite things to make are cupcakes, especially rainbow cupcakes. Who would pass up one of these fun treats and who couldn't have a smile on their face after seeing all the vivid colors?

I will take you step by step through the rainbow cupcake making process.

Step one: Make batter and separate into 6 equal parts.



Step two: Get your icing colors and add just about 1/8 of a teaspoon of each color to each bowl.



What a fun mess! :)



Step three: Put cupcake liners in muffin tin. Using a spoon, put about a 1/2 to 3/4 a teaspoon of each color batter in the cupcake liners. DO NOT STIR TOGETHER (this will create a yucky brown color). Just layer colors in the ROY G. BIV order, or reverse, or whatever order you want. Colors will not mix together, but just layer on top of another. Then BAKE them for about 22 minutes. Take out of oven, out of muffin tin, and let cool completely.



Step four: Ice your cupcakes and enjoy :)




Ingredients
One white cake mix
4 egg whites
1/3 cup of plain applesauce (I use applesauce instead of oil. Keeps cake moist and is healthier!)
1 1/4 cup of water

- Mix together. Divide into 6 bowls, in 6 equal parts.
- Use Wilton's Icing Colors (they come in a box of 8 at Michael's or Walmart), I used about 1/8 of a teaspoon to get the bright vivid colors instead of pastel colors. Mix the color into each bowl.
- Then use about a 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of each colored batter to fill up the cupcake liner.
- Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes. Let cool completely before icing.
- Use your favorite icing recipe or if you're in a time crunch, cheat and get the premade kind :)

Enjoy!

Sopapilla cheesecake.


I found this recipe on the internet, decided it seemed easy, and just sounded delicious, so those were enough reasons for me. I made it this past Sunday afternoon before I headed to our kickoff for the new youth Bible studies, took it with me to share with some of the adults, and needless to say I returned home with less than half of it left!

Sopapilla Cheesecake
Ingredients:
3 cans crescent rolls
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter (melted)
Cinnamon & sugar

Instructions:
Unroll and spread 1 & 1/2 can crescent rolls on bottom of un-greased pan. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

You can eat this after it has cooled or throw it in the fridge (which I prefer) and let it chill before you enjoy. I also top a slice with fresh sliced strawberries and a spoonful of whipped cream.

Enjoy it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Changing

Change has a way of making people feel uneasy because what has been is suddenly different. Change can be good, change can be bad. I have experienced a lot of good change that I initially thought was bad. Changing friendships, changing attitudes, changing minds, changing perspectives, changing hearts. I've always been one to be opposed to change because I was never fond of starting new.

My whole life, from the time I was born and even until now, I've had too many new starts. Things have never been completely settled. Since I've never been settled, my goal was to find somewhere to enjoy that. Fortunately, with God there is never room for settling. And I've had to learn that the hard way.

My Nana was always a stubborn but incredible woman. She said it ran in the family - and if you ever meet all five of her boys (my father included) you will understand her blanket statement about the family. If you know me at all, you will understand too. I am the type of person who will fight for anything and everything that I am passionate about - even to the point where I am causing unnecessary sacrifice and pain to myself. I don't realize that I am doing this because of the relentless love and passion I have towards my relationships, hobbies, ideals, and expectations. I hardly ever give up, unless God literally has to tear those things away from me. In the past two years, this has been the case more so than often. Unfortunately I didn't learn the lesson the Lord was trying to teach me the first time. So repeatedly, I experienced this "tearing away" because of my stubbornness. Praise the Lord for a God who knows my heart and it's condition before I slow down enough to realize it. He knew where I was heading, He prepared the way for me, stopped my tracks on the wrong route, and pushed me towards the right path.

My heart is healing from its previous condition. It's taken much trust, faith, and sacrifice of my stubbornness, but I can feel it changing. It's yearning for the Father, becoming more passionate for the One Most High. It's eager for change, faithful despite the hurdles of life, and hopeful for what the Lord has in store.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

He has picked me.

I have many Post-it notes, cards, and scraps of paper taped to the area around my desk and computer screen with verses of encouragement, quotes, and little reminders of the Lord's great vision, purpose, and love for me. After a pretty discouraging morning, I read one of these little notes stuck up with a piece of scotch tape that really spoke to my heart.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach the good new to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners...
- Isaiah 61:1

Sometimes I struggle with God's control over my life and other times I am grateful that He has that power over me. Some would view control as a burden and a blessing. I struggle with it because it means that things aren't going to happen the way I'd like for them to, and who doesn't have an issue with that? At other times I am grateful that our Lord knows what He is doing and He knows the condition of our hearts because He knows what is best for us and provides that best for us. There have been many instances where I was not pleased with the outcome of those moments, moments where you feel so frustrated because you don't have that grip. But as I sit here at my desk, I am grateful for God's design for my life - all the good moments, and all the heartwrenching moments. For I would not be the woman I am today, sitting here, trying to be the best example I can be, and full of much more wisdom than I had before.

I am blessed that God has led me to a place where He has given me the responsibility to lead teenagers closer to Him. I am blessed because I get to watch God work in the hearts of these teenagers. I am blessed with the challenges that come with being the new person in the group, blessed by the ones that challenge me and push me to pray for God's will and patience.

I am blessed.