Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-Easy Summertime Cherry Salad

Many many years ago my mom had a baby.
It was me.
A few days after I was born her phone rang.
A beloved, elderly gentleman in their church had died.
While they knew she had just had a baby, it was around Christmas.
Everyone was out of town.
And they were desperate for a salad for his funeral dinner.
They asked if she wouldn't mind putting one together someone else would come by and pick it up.
If you know my mom-you know her servant's heart didn't hesitate. Even then.
However her cabinets were bare and grocery shopping wasn't an option.
She still tells the story how she went into her pantry and stood there and just blinked, in that numb exhausted, what do I do kind of way.
She whispered a prayer, Lord show me what to put together.
And then....cherry salad was born.
Now, years later, it's pretty famous around here. Just Sunday evening after church when the Mr. and I went out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant I got stopped by a lady who said-I just made your mom's cherry salad last night!!!
My mom always thinks this is the perfect salad to bring to a function where other people are bringing salads as well, because most of them will probably be bringing green salads, and this is a perfect alternative. So growing up when I saw my mom making this salad (which was often) I always sat down in her kitchen and said quietly...mom, who died? 90% of the time, it was for a funeral dinner. We have it at most family holidays as well! So after much ado...it's my honor to bring to you not only a delicious salad, but probably the easiest recipe I know. If you can pour and stir, you've got this. Promise.

Printable Recipe

Here's what you'll need...
1 large cherry jello (or you can use 2 small)
1 15 1/4 oz. crushed pineapple
1 21 oz. cherry pie filling
1 cup boiling water
That's it. Really.

Combine Jello and boiling water until dissolved. (just a little tip from me to you-if you stir this too quickly you'll end up with lots of tiny bubbles in your salad. still tastes perfect, but not as pretty. so take it slow and stir for about a minute)

Pour in the pie filling.

And pour in the pineapple. Juice and all. No need to drain.

Mix well.

Pour it into a 13x9 dish and refrigerate. And just in case this salad couldn't get easier for you, it sets up in the fridge super quickly. Thanks to the cherry pie filling I've known to take this out in about 45 mins when I've been in a hurry, though I'd recommend an hour for the best consistency. Couldn't be easier or more delicious.

Printable recipe found here!

Linking up with: Mel, Emily, Mandy, Chef in Training, Darlene, Cornerstone Confessions, Jacinda, and Make Ahead Meals.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Crave" Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of "Crave". There's a lot to cover so I'm ready to jump in! As always make sure to stop by Crystal & Rebecca's pages, as well as link up at the bottom to join up!

Chapter 5: "Made for More"
I love how Lysa starts this chapter discussing the "honeymoon phase" of a healthy eating plan. I love that I'm not the only one that has been there!! After my eat-all-you-can-in-on-evening phase right before beginning a healthy eating plan, I get really excited. Maybe some of you all get sad, and I understand that too. But primarily I get excited to think of the fresh fruits and veggies and new things I'll try. The excitement combined with the initial feeling of perseverance is enough to get me going for sure! But that only lasts so long, right? Give me a few weeks (or days) to realize that I actually like junk food more than healthy stuff-I'm sorry, it's true. A bad day eventually rolls around giving me the perfect opportunity to say "never mind, I don't even care what I eat right now-it's been such a bad day I deserve this pizza."

This is where Lysa meets us in this chapter. In that moment where you are not only ready to throw in the towel, you're already planning what that deliciously unhealthy meal is going to be. But then she reminds us wait...we are made for more than this.
More than disappoint.
More than defeat.
More than giving up-again.

I read the last paragraph in this chapter with tears in my eyes,
"We were made for more than excuses and vicious cycles. We can taste success. We can experience truth. We can choose to stay on the path of hard work and perseverance. We can build one success on top of another. We can keep "made for more" at the top of our minds and on the tips of our tongues. And our eating habits can be totally transformed as we keep asking, embrace our true identity, find the deeper reason for claiming that identity, and operate in the hope and power that's like no other." (55)

Operating in the hope and power that's like no other...I don't know about you-but I'm needing some more of that in my life.

Chapter 6: "Growing Closer to God"

"Growing closer to God has a whole lot less to do with any action we might take and a whole lot more to do with positioning our hearts toward Him." (59)

I've shared with you before that I've been on this weight loss journey before. Unfortunately this is by no means my first time around these hurdles and struggles. My first time around I relied so heavily on prayer to get me through those times of intense temptation. So this scenario might seem silly to some of you-especially if you've never endured this specific battle with weight-but I still get tears in my eyes when I think of this. I vividly remember one night, after a very, very difficult week where I almost completely gave up numerous times, that I went into my closet feeling emotionally drained. I have no idea why, maybe built up frustration, I grabbed a pair of very old jeans that I hadn't fit into for years. I decided the time to put them on was perfect because I knew they wouldn't fit and because I was in such an awful frame of mind it wouldn't make things any worse than they already were. (Twisted much??)
Suddenly, they slipped right on. No dancing around the room to get one leg in, no holding my breath, they just simply slipped on. Not only that-they were too big.
Ya'll...I fell to the floor on my face weeping. What came in a moment of jean sizes was actually much bigger than that. It was what the result was of weeks of what felt like I physical, actual fight. A battle I had fought-what felt like constantly-for weeks now. Because of the power of God through me, I had done it. HE had done it. I remember it like it was yesterday, and that night on my face as I wept I mumbled the words to God-I don't care if I lose another ounce...I just want You.

What had started out as a seemingly "worldly" thing like a diet had turned into a deeply spiritual journey. One in which had led me from my initial desire-to lose weight-to a whole different desire-more of God. Throughout the process I had depended and felt the power of God so strongly that it became my sole desire. I feel like this is what Lysa is saying in this chapter. No matter what the vehicle we take might look like, our ultimate destination is intimacy with God. For me it was my battle with weight, it might be something totally different for you. But whatever it is when we endure that struggle with the power of God we are sure to grow closer to Him. Also for me, I had unintentionally and very unknowingly put food over God. I was finally putting who I wanted to be #1 in my life back there. "Becoming a woman of self-discipline honors God and helps me live the godly characteristic of self-control." (61)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Scripture Sunday

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fab Friday

Oh how I've missed this place and you friends this week!!! Hi! How are you?

This week was the Mr's last week of absolutely no work responsibility. While school doesn't actually start for a couple more weeks, next week begins meetings and conferences. So this was it. Thus my lack of presence here. We've been soaking up every second we could and enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with this time of year for us. While I am looking forward very much to a more "normal" routine, I don't know how long it will take me to adjust to the absolute quiet and stillness that is our home without him in it. So with that said you would imagine I would have pics to go with this weeks Fab Friday. Wrong-o. I've been totally slacking in the picture department for some reason? Weirdo for me. So without further ado...let's get on with the less-than-exciting-no-picture-highlights from the week....(if that description doesn't leave you on the edge of your seat, I'm not sure what will)

1.) You know those times where you have a list in the back of your mind of people that you would like to do something for? Like a new neighbor you've been meaning to drop by something sweet and say hello, or a friend who's going through a rough patch. Well sometimes that list gets out of control for me and I'm slapping my forehead thinking :::why haven't I done this already?::: So this afternoon I spent some baking time in the kitchen and busted out one of my favorite cookbooks by the Pioneer Woman and made her divine cinnamon rolls. And since the recipe makes 40-50 cinnamon rolls, I knocked out that mental list, gave some pans away to some friends, and even froze some. Oh and did I mention they are plate-licking-worthy?

2.) Typically this time of year for Oklahoma our weather is two things. Dry + hot. That's it. And very opposite of the tornado filled rainy season that leads us into Spring and Summer, at the end of Summer we finish it up with the threat of wild fire from all the dryness. It's feast or famine over here folks. However, in a very strange (but blessed) turn of events the last full week of July has been quite rainy and lovely-with even flood advisories. Such a merciful, unexpected gift I tell you.

3.) I'm debating following a big dream of mine. It's big. And scary. I don't do scary well. Unless you count the encounter in the mirror first thing in the morning pre-coffee and make-up. When I was younger and fresh out of high school I was much more brave and a dreamer and was bound and determined to chase this dream. Sadly it didn't happen. I was so crushed that I decided to close that part of my heart and mind forever and never visit it again so that I didn't have to face that devastation of not achieving those goals ever again. But God is doing something in my heart, that door is slowly opening again and that dream is still very much alive and well. While it feels realistically impossible I am slowly testing the waters to see if there's any way at all. If you think of it say a prayer for me please as I seek God's will and direction on this scary and unknown path.

4.) Today I saw an advertisement for an upcoming pumpkin scented line of candles and I got so giddy for Fall I caught myself literally grinning. Time to fire up the "Fall" pinterest boards. I'm a total sucker for all things Pumpkin.

Linking up with: Anne, Kerry, Alissa.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Crave" Week 3

This week begins Week 3 of our "Crave" study! How are you doing? I am loving how God is using this book to speak to parts of my heart that really need a good "speaking to" and parts of my mind that needs major work on. Make sure to stop by Crystal & Rebecca's pages, as well as link up at the bottom to join up!

Chapter 3: "Getting a Plan"

Lysa opens up this chapter with her example of the garden that she passes by, bringing up her longings of a beautiful garden of her own-while not really wanting all the work that it requires. I can relate on many levels, but specifically when it comes to getting healthy and losing weight. I would love to say that the one and only reason I'm working on this is to become a healthier and better version of my self, and that is definitely part of it. But to be honest, there's another (more shallow) side of me that walks through the department store daydreaming of smaller dress sizes and more clothing options of being able to fit into whatever I want. And those are the days I probably gather more gumption to buckle down than others. Sad, but true.

"I want the flowers but not the work. Isn't that the way it is with many things in life-we want the results but have no desire to put in the work required?" (35)

Yes and yes. When I'm facing that rack of dresses in the store that I am picturing myself in I feel so empowered to just say no to the bad foods that I should say no to, and all of a sudden it doesn't seem like a struggle at all anymore! This is SO worth it obviously. But check back with me a couple of hours later and I will probably say something like-eh that dress wasn't so great anyways.

Lysa also points to food being a form of addiction in this chapter. I couldn't agree more. Drugs and alcohol have never been a struggle or even temptation for me personally. But before you write me off as someone who has set herself upon a "pillar" of good girl status, wait a second, I've still struggled with my fair share of addiction. Just because I reached for food instead of another substance makes me NO better than the alcoholic down the street. No better. At the end of the day it means we are running to and depending on something other than God-no matter what that may be it is wrong and sinful.

"That's both the blessing & the curse of issues with food. Poor choices with food will rat me out every time-if not in my waist line, then in my energy level & my overall well-being." (38)

So what's so important about having a plan? Well first of all, I really appreciated her clearly saying that the plan she chose may not be right for everyone. I am one of those people! Completely eliminating sugars is simply not realistic for me personally, and I'm okay with admitting that. Ultimately the only thing that will work for you is the plan that works for each of us individually. For me personally that means calorie counting. I think it's important to point out here that sometimes (often times) it takes a few rounds of good ol' trial & error to find the plan that works best for you. And that's ok! Continue to preserve and find the plan that works best until you find something that you can really agree with and commit to.

"This journey will require you to make some tough sacrifices, but I've come to look at this process as embracing healthy choices rather than denying myself. There are lessons to be learned & perspectives to be gained in the season of embracing healthy choices. These will not just be physical lessons, the mental & spiritual lessons gained in this time will be the very thing that will equip you for the long haul." (39)

Chapter 4: "Friends Don't let Friends Eat before Thinking"

Accountability-Do you use it? Does it work for you? Sometimes I feel like we have those people in our lives who help us remain accountable overall in our lives, and they usually stand by us for a pretty long haul of our lives. But then there are those who are there to help us primarily in a single issue or area of struggle in our lives. This battle with food and health is a perfect example. I am so blessed by one of my best friends who is going through a very similar journey as I. We like to send pictures of our meals/snacks to each other. I've found this is a great way to stay on track, because really who wants to shamefully send a picture of a giant pizza when the other person is trying to help you get healthy. We also take some time each week to kind of go over how we're doing and different things we struggled with or things that worked well for us. I'm seeing a huge help in this!

"We must be aware that desperation breeds degradation. In other words, when what is lacking in life goes from being an annoyance to an anxiety we run the risk of compromising in ways we never thought we would." (42)

We've all found ourselves in those moments of weakness, trying to justify it just this one time. But its time we take down the façade of it being a seemingly simple "one time only fix" and begin to see it for what it really is-attacks from satan. Why is this so hard for us to recognize? Myself included!! If I hear of a recovering alcoholic friend being invited to go to a bar by a co-worker, my prayer becomes, Lord strengthen her against satan's schemes and attack right now. The same goes when I hear of a young girl I'm mentoring being lured in by an older boy who wants more than she's willing to give. So why in the world do I not view the same attack as personal in those easily compromising moments of food with "just this one time?" ringing in my mind. This is one of the many ways I see good, Godly friends who are willing to stand by you, encourage you, and pray for you. We have to remain aware of the attacks that will come our ways when we commit to something we know God is calling us to do, and one of those ways is prayerfully considering an accountability partner that will support you in that.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scripture Sunday

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Paper Pinwheels & Perspective

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy and hectic for my family. We are in VBS this week and for the umpteenth year I'm teaching in crafts. This year however, I also committed to transforming our 2 classrooms with decorations. Ya'll, I have dreamt in hot glue and construction paper for far too many nights lately. So Saturday was crunch time-I had 1000 loose ends to tie up, so many things to finish, and I sarcastically (but with a sincere heart) joked to my husband on my way out the door...I think I'll just take a sleeping bag down to the church with me.

My list that day felt impossible to accomplish, and it was one of those days where you could just sense...I'm not sure when and I'm not sure where, but sometime during this day I will have a full-on meltdown...
It happened in the grocery store parking lot.

In the midst of the 1000 things running through my head, somehow (God), I suddenly heard the radio (that had been on the whole time). It was the end of The City Harmonic's song "Manifesto". Have you heard it? At the end of it, they sing the Lord's Prayer. And suddenly...all the other things faded away and those blessed timeless words were practically screaming at me. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy Name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us our daily bread and forgive our trespasses
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us
Lord lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, power and the glory forever

Forever. As I wept in my car in that parking lot, I-and my list-felt infinitely small. Because at the end of the day it was not really about many pinwheels I could made in an hour or how the decorations would stay up and hold for the entire week. It wasn't about the craft kits I was preparing or the techniques I would teach them. It was about Jesus.

The Name that is above all names that all will confess as Lord one day, that I whisper in moments of despair and am reminded that life is still filled with hope. A hope that is unshakable, unchangeable throughout all generations. A hope that has stood the test of time for the vast behind us, and will surely remain long after us. A hope that, God willing, we will pour into the next generation. Not like when is appropriate to wear white shoes or the skinny jean trend-fads that come and go. Instead we speak and teach of the same hope the great sojourners of our faith of long ago held to. And God willing, we will teach it to the the generations after us and they will learn to cling to it as we do today. It may come in hundred of forms and styles-Christian cartoons, songs with the appropriate hand motions, or a week every summer of brightly covered walls and crafts and snacks. But ultimately, no matter what way we do it, we are pouring forth the same Jesus that has saved and held generation after generation.

Perspective at its finest.

Linking up with Kristen, Rachel, June, Kim

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-Quick & Healthy Personal Pizzas

This week we are in Vacation Bible School around here and the Mr. is in crazy study mode for a very big important test this weekend, which means schedules are crazy and energy is low. I am determined to keep it as healthy as possible this week even in the midst of the chaos. As soon as I got done at the gym tonight I was so tempted to pick up something on the way home for dinner. But I remembered this easy as can be recipe and drove straight home. (Yay for little victories!!!)

These pizzas are so delicious, simple and fun. You can top it with anything you can imagine or let the kids create their own with faces out of mini pepperoni's. Paired with a big green salad it's one of our favorite, fast, healthy (but still so yummy) dinners. I hope you love it too!!!

This particular night I kept it basic with just a cheese topping, but I also love Canadian bacon slices and green pepper. So you'll need pita bread (mine is found in the deli section of my grocery store), a jar of pizza sauce (this one is my personal favorite that I always have on hand-I would really love to find a homemade recipe though) and 2% shredded mozzarella.

Does this even require a pictorial description today? I don't think so-fast and easy. Place these on an ungreased baking sheet and pop them into a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and delicious.

Also, if you can't find the pita bread in your local grocery stores, I also use reduced fat refrigerated crescent roll dough. I just use a rectangle of it and lay it out on a greased baking sheet, building the pizza you want, then baking as the package instructs. I use this in a pinch when I don't have pita bread on hand and they are wonderful also!!

Printable version found here!

Linking up with Emily, Mandy, Nikki, Darlene, Jacinda, Ashley, Cynthia, Ali, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Karyn, Melissa, The Recipe Critic, Make Bake & Create

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Crave" Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of "Crave"! How's it going for you? What's God showing? I can honestly tell you that on the days I've missed reading some of the book, are the days that I have seemed to struggle more with my eating choices. This week we're covering Chapters 1 & 2. Make sure you also stop by Crystal & Rebecca's sites to see what God showed them this week. Also, link up what you're thinking as well-I love seeing everyone's perspectives!!!

Chapter 1: "What's Really Going On Here?"

I love Lysa's opening example of the commercial with the orange monster chasing the woman around, and how that's so often ourselves. It was such an eye-opening reality of the truth of the situation that I live through seemingly day after day at times. Once in a while when I let that "orange monster" catch up with me and let myself slip one time because of lack of time or convenience sake and I end up calling it a free day, because I did already slip up earlier in the day. Well then that day becomes that week. And often times I'll find myself saying...next month sounds good! Next month I will wake up with resolve and determination and will kick this for good.

"We crave what we eat. So, the cycle continues day after day. (19)

After day after day after month after year. Which can leave me feel defeated and helpless, like this is just who I am and who I will be my entire life. But then Lysa is so quick to remind us that...

I believe God made us to crave. Now before you think this is some sort of cruel joke by God, let me assure you that the object of our craving was never supposed to be food or other things people find themselves consumed by, such as sex or money or chasing after significance. Yes, we were made to crave-long for, want greatly, desire eagerly and beg for-God. Only God. But Satan wants to do everything possible to replace our craving for God with something else. (21)

And all of a sudden, just like that, I'm reminded that I am not helpless, nor defeated. Those feelings are evidence of Satan's attempts in my life to keep me down. Because let's face it-if I see something as impossible, am I really going to go for it? No. Example: I've never jumped off a tall building because I know it's impossible to fly. It's the same with this, if Satan can convince us that we are stuck in our circumstances and defeated before we even try in our battle with food, then he's already won half the battle-and for me it's a HUGE half of the battle.

Chapter 2: "Replacing My Cravings"

I closed Chapter 1 feeling like maybe there was hope, like maybe my feelings of constant defeat were just that, feelings. Feelings that had been lying to me and that I had been believing for far too long. But I wondered...now what? Now that I recognize Satan's attempts to fill my head with lies and convince me that I was helpless because this was just "the way I am", what do I do?

Well first of all, when cracking open Chapter 2 I smiled to myself reading about Lysa's resolve to do better the next day and really live it up until then on the cinnamon rolls. I have made myself so, so sick doing that as well.

The day I read this chapter I had been trying-feebly- to edge in to this eating healthy attempt for one week. That morning I eagerly hopped on the scale to check out the progress I was sure I had made, after all, it had been a whole week ya'll. I was quickly disappointed when I saw that I had actually gained 2 ounces. Now that may sound silly. A.) It wasn't even a pound, it was 2 ounces. B.) When I said feeble attempt, I meant feeble attempt. I had in no way given it my all, and hardly worked out at all that week. So how I was expecting such grand results is beyond me. But still, I slumped on the couch to read this chapter of the book, but in the back of my mind I was already planning the extravagant food ways I would "comfort" myself throughout the day to help ease the blow from the scale. So when I read this, I'm obviously now in full-on waterworks...

"This wasn't really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart." (28)

After I dried my eyes enough to read the next sentence, I resolved to keep trying. To be honest with you, at that particular time because I was so upset I couldn't vow the whole day would be full of healthy eating and exercise. But I would at least make breakfast healthy. It was a step right? The rest of the day would unfold as it may. But you know what? I had a great healthy lunch, snacks, dinner, AND finally a workout that I could really feel was real. You know what I mean? That night as I laid in bed I thought over the day. I thought of the swing of the pendulum of emotions inside me. That I began the day feeling so defeated from that blow on the scale, and instantly turned to a plan of food, food, and more food throughout the day to comfort me. And instead felt amazing after a great eating and exercise day. That's something only God can do.

Lysa's transparency of sharing her examples of struggle and how she prayed to cope with them was inspiring to me at the end of this chapter. Every time she craved something she shouldn't, she would pray. An honest prayer that told her Father that she was really struggling in that moment. The result?

"Then, one morning it finally happened. I got up and for the first time in a long while, I felt incredibly empowered. I still did the same crazy routine with the scale-no clothes, no ponytail holder-but I only stepped on it once. The numbers hadn't changed yet, but my heart had. (31)

I love that. However, I will be honest with you-I'm not there yet. I'm still struggling a lot, and my heart isn't in the satisfied state that Lysa describes. But I do have hope, and faith, that if I continue to be faithful to Him in this area of my heart and my life, that eventually I will too. And that will keep me going.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Scripture Sunday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tasty Tuesday- Slow Cooker Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken

I don't think there's ever a time that I don't love a good crock pot recipe, but in the summertime it's my favorite. I stumbled upon this recipe last week on Pinterest and happened to have all the ingredients in the kitchen. Don't you love it when that happens? This is a super yummy and super quick recipe that I think you'll love!
Original recipe found here at the Six Sisters' Stuff.

Printable Recipe

4-6 chicken breasts (Since I was just feeding my husband and I, I had 2 really large ones and it was plenty)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons water
Rice or noodles, cooked
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Spray crock pot with cooking spray and put in chicken. Frozen or thawed work for this and I used frozen.

In a bowl combine brown sugar, vinegar, soda, garlic, soy sauce & pepper.

Pour over chicken and set it on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8.

Take chicken pieces out of crock pot and place in a separate bowl.

Pour the remaining broth in a saucepan and add the corn starch and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 2-3 minutes, or until it starts to thicken and turns into a glaze. (This happened very quickly for me, since my mixture was already hot coming right out of the crock pot.)

While this is going shred your chicken with 2 forks.

I served this with a side of fried rice I had in the freezer because we were in a hurry. But I think it would be best served over rice or noodles as the original recipe suggests. Also I didn't have any red pepper flakes to top it off, but we didn't miss it one bit. This was a huge hit and will definitely be used again!

Printable version found here!

Linking up with Emily, Mandy, Nikki, Darlene, Jacinda, Ashley, Cynthia, Ali, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Karyn, Melissa, The Recipe Critic, and Keeping up with the Johnsons.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Crave" Week 1

Introduction: "Finding Your Want To"

Let's start this off with a confession: 90% of the books I read, I merely skim over the Introduction. I typically feel guilty about this too, like I'm breaking a rule or something. But this book was different. I approached this book like any other thinking to myself...I'll quickly flip through these few pages to get to the "real" stuff. But somewhere between the first sentence and the second paragraph I was hooked and instantly became a "rule-follower" and read the introduction. I feel like a real grown up all of a sudden.

What hooked me was the instant connection I was able to make and how I found myself feeling like Lysa TerKeurst had somehow read my journals.

"It's not the 'how to' I'm missing. It's the 'want to'...really wanting to make changes and deciding that the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice." (11) Me too.
"Another day, another time. I'm doing the best I can." (11) This exact thought has saved me from a life-changing (and much needed) self imposed guilt trip to the gym.
"the thought of taking the plunge and signing up for another diet made me want to sit down and cry. And eat." (13) I'm fairly certain to assume that this cycle itself has added on a few dozen pounds.

So throughout these first few pages I'm just sitting there wide-eyed, literally nodding along. And then-well then things got real. And here came the tears. Anyone else?

"I think we all get to a place sometimes in our lives when we have to give a brutally honest answer to the question, "How am I doing?" It's one of those middle-of-the-night contemplations when there's no one to fool. There's no glossing over the realities staring us in the face." (13)

I had that moment, where I laid there in the dark with tears dripping off my face as I tossed around that question in my head for what seemed like forever- How am I doing?
I didn't have an exact answer. It was one of those questions where there were no real words to sum up what my response would be if someone would have been sitting there with me asking that question to my face. But for lack of words-I knew it wasn't good. When my mind went to my health and my weight I couldn't even tell you how "not good" I was doing because I had been too utterly terrified to step on the scale for months. I had been shutting down the thought for so long and feeding myself excuse after excuse of why I could justify not worrying about my weight at the moment. By the way, that moment turned into a few years. Like Lysa says, "It is easier to make excuses than changes." (14)

So when she uses the story in Matthew 19 when Jesus commands the rich young man to sell all he has and come follow Him I saw the connection that was there between myself and my weight battle. When it comes to this struggle I have hardly denied myself anything. Food I really want? Go for it. Too tired to work out? Eh...maybe tomorrow, it was a long day.

All of a sudden this took a swift change from the number on the scale that I was too terrified to face or the increasing pant size. It became something I couldn't "excuse" myself away from. There was nothing else I could call it but blatant disobedience.

If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34)

"With Jesus, if we want to gain, we must give up.
If we want to be filled, we must deny ourselves.
If we want to truly get close to God, we'll have to distance ourselves from other things.
If we want to conquer our cravings, we'll have to redirect them to God."

It's past time I start living out the truth that I can't expect to have everything I want and still be the person I want to be. It's about choices and what's the best and most God-honoring choices I can make. This next part rocked my world...

"God made us capable of craving so we'd have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only One capable of satisfying them. (16)

Does that shed some hope on this situation to anyone else? My cravings are not bad or sinful, they are put there by God. If I would begin to stop taking that craving to food and begin to take it to the only true satisfaction-Jesus-I would be a whole lot closer to Him and a whole lot physically healthy. And that right there made me say inside-ok I'm in...sign me up.

Here's a few practical steps I took last week:
1.) Repent and ask God to forgive me for the wrong way I've handled the cravings He has given me and for "excusing out" His Holy Spirit's guiding on the subject.
2.) Wake up, say a big prayer asking for strength, and step on that scale. It was time I face that monster and I needed to know where I was starting.
3.) I downloaded a free calorie & exercise tracker on my phone. I personally am using the "Lose It" app, but I know there are lots of good ones.
4.) Begin my day by surrendering this battle to the Lord and asking for His wisdom to lead me to the healthy and right choices and the strength and discipline to make those decisions. No, carrots are not going to taste like pizza because I say this prayer, but I've been around this mountain enough times to know that without His power working through me on this I might as well stop before I even start. I'm hopeless without Him.
5.) I took my meals and my eating one day at a time. Looking at a whole week (or lifestyle) of healthy living was enough to make me go back to the couch. So for this day-or sometimes just the very next meal-I will make a good choice.

So what about you? What stuck out in the Introduction to you? Maybe your battle isn't even with food-that's fine! What area is God using this book to speak to you about? Any practical tips that worked well for you that you would be willing to share? Comment down below and link up! Make sure you stop by and see what Crystal & Rebecca thought about the Introduction as well, they are amazing women of God who have incredible insight and I truly believe you will be blessed by them as I am.

Also I want to point out that at the back of the book are some really great resources that I plan to take full advantage of. Look up and use the "Verses by Chapter" and "Healthy Eating Go-To Scripts", I believe in the power of God's Word and those are some really helpful ways to incorporate it in this struggle.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Scripture Sunday

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2

Typically every Tuesday I share a recipe with you all on Tasty Tuesday. But this Tuesday happens to be a very special Tuesday that simply begged me to share something else. Something much bigger and more meaningful to me.

Today is my salvation birthday. 19 years ago to this day, I asked my mom and dad to follow me to my bedroom after dinner one Saturday evening because I needed to talk to them. I remember it all very vividly and so clearly. As I sat on my bed and listened to them clinging pots and pans while they cleaned up from dinner I wondered how I would begin this conversation (I was a rather dramatic child.) And as the noises slowly came to an end, their footsteps got louder and soon they knocked on my door and came in and sat on my bed with me. Over the next few moments I told them I was tired of sinning, I knew I need a Savior, and I knew exactly who that was. I wanted to give my life, my all, my everything to Him. And I wanted to do it right now.

We all prayed and cried as I made the most important decision I've ever made. Even though I was young I knew fully what I was doing and what that commitment would mean for the rest of my life, and I'd never been happier. To this day, 19 years later, I can honestly say that I've never been as happy as I was on that Saturday evening in July.

I've had some pretty great days since then too. A loving family and friends, graduations, falling in love with my husband, getting married-all beautiful and joyous days. But nothing compares in my mind to July 2, 1994. Every July 2 since then I have awoken on this day with a song of praise on my heart, for the significance of this day.

I have walked with Him for 19 years. I have grown to love Him like I never knew possible. Grown to trust Him. Grown to rely on Him. Grown to call out His Name. Grown to find Him true to His Word-every single time.
May I tell you this-He has never ever let me down. Not once, not for one second. Even through my darkest days-because of course they still came-He was faithful to me.

Have you ever had a July 2 like mine? What was your experience?

Maybe you've never had that experience. Would you like to? Or at least like more information about what I'm talking about? It would be my honor to hear from you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Crave Study Announcement

You know those things that you just really don't want to talk about. Not because you're unwilling to be real to other people, but because you're unwilling to be real to yourself?
I'm there right now.

I've been running from this monster for much too long, and I'm downright exhausted and a tad broken over the whole thing. So I'm stopping, crying a bit, (or a whole bunch of a lot) and getting real. Finally. Let's talk.

I can remember struggling with my weight for most of my young life. It has always seemed a losing battle that I could never win so why try. Even if I did have a few good days, shoot a few good months even, eventually I was going to start to somehow slide back into my old habits. So what happened in January of 2007 is very hard to explain for me. Something clicked inside my brain and I finally decided to really work at it and basically I can sum it all up in one explanation-it was a total and complete God thing. Nothing short of a miracle. I lost almost 100 pounds.

Now this is the part that is almost too hard and feels unbearable to even type, let alone admit. But over the course of the next few years, I gained it most of it back.

It's hard to not beat myself over that one daily, and if I let myself do that and dwell on that I'm not sure I'd even get out of bed some days.
How in the world did this happen?

But then I let my mind travel beyond the condemnation and guilt and to the days that I started to slide backwards. I remember what was happening.
Life was crumbling around me.
I was finally breaking free from an abusive relationship. Scared to death.
A few weeks later, I was being awoken in the middle of the night by my best friend, hundreds of miles away, who was crying on the bathroom floor in the worst pain of her life with no explanation. A few days later we did get an explanation though. She had cancer.
I spent the next few months in the fight of her life alongside her.
Praise God, we got the good news a few months after treatment that she was in remission.
But during that celebration my aunt, who was like my 2nd mother, got diagnosed with cancer. She didn't survive.

This all happened in one year.

I remember that and try to let up on myself a bit. I look back and wonder how in the world I survived it all. I got out alive-accomplishment in and of itself.

So I've just basically ignored my health, ignored the fact that I practically wasted all that hard work. That I can't even think that thought without tears welling up. I'm finally staring down the beast though. I'm ready to come back and do the thing. Which began with staring down the problem and stop running from it, forgiving myself for the mess I've found myself in once again, and start praying because it was time to get back to work.

That's when I found the book, "Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst. As soon as I began looking over the pages I felt the broken parts in my heart ache as they were being spoken to directly. Let me just say, I'm still in the first half of the book and I cannot tell you the number of times I have found myself nodding in agreement, wide eyed in astonishment that someone else felt that way, and weeping with the overwhelming sense of it all. So I wondered if anyone else has been there? Still there? Anyone?

I invite you to join us as we begin the Summer Study of "Crave". Each Monday over the next few weeks myself and the lovely ladies of Serving Joyfully and Caravan Sonnet are teaming up to bring you what God is doing through our journey's through this book, and we'd love to have you come along. If you can, I highly recommend obtaining a copy of the book, I truly think it will be worth it. Next week we will all ease into it with the introduction to the book and the study and will also announce the schedule the study will run so you will be able to follow along as well. I believe God to do something big through this project and I hope you're able to join us!