Monday, December 6, 2010

Inexpressible and glorious joy

Unfortunately I do not have a recipe to share with this post. I have not been doing much cooking or really baking this semester. Life is slightly crazy and honestly a lot of the time I just don't feel like cooking something for myself. Although I have made chocolate white chocolate chip cookies quite often for friends :) I don't even know what to really call them but they are my fav and it seems that others really like them as well! So here is the post just in case you want to try them!
Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had this strange and random desire to write today. I really just want to share what's been on my heart and what life has been like this semester! I am going to be very vulnerable and I pray that there is a reason for my desire!

These past 4 months have been great and also hard in a lot of ways. My life has changed somewhat dramatically. Well dramatically because I am in college and if you know me, I pretty much make everything dramatic! The people I spend most of my time with is different and my living situation is different and well everything is honestly just different than the past two years and than I expected it to be. But that's the cool thing, it's not about our plan and I am just resting in the assurance that whatever is going on right now is up to the Lord and well it's perfect because it's his plan and he knows what he's doing!! I have been given the privilege to lead freshman girls in bible study with my friend Kristy. Who by the way has been such a blessing and I am so confident that God put her in my life at the perfect time and is using her in tremendous ways in so many people's lives, but especially mine!!
I get to spend every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:45-5:00 with my friend Melanie. We have so much fun together and I never imagined we would become so close. She puts up with my crazy stories, random laughs, frustrations, sometimes tears, and just how weird I am. Thank you Melanie, you will never know how much it means to me! I have also been getting closer to some friends back home like Gretchen! We feel so comfortable around each other and have been able to have such wonderful conversations every time we get together! I am looking forward to the growth and continuation of that friendship! She is precious :)

I found out early on in September that some things in my schedule had changed and it was possible for me to graduate early. I talked with my advisor and parents and decided that we would make this work! So July 2, 2011 I will officially have my undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech! Well my dad is always saying that we'll see and I'm not sure he's confident that I will make it, but I am determined! I have the opportunity to walk in the graduation ceremony in the spring and then will be taking 3 online classes during the first summer session. I am so excited! This means that grad school is in the very near future, like August! So this is really exciting but has become an extremely stressful and frustrating experience. Because I wasn't expecting to graduate I hadn't really looked into schools or done much to prepare for applying. I have probably looked at 20-25 schools trying to figure out where I want to apply. I have narrowed it down to 5; UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, UNC Charlotte, College of Charleston, and ODU! Every time I think that I am finished with the application or have done everything I need to something comes up and there is even more that I have to do. I am starting to think maybe I am just not supposed to go. Well I'm just kidding, but seriously it is extremely frustrating. If I didn't know Jesus was guiding me and has a perfect place already in mind for me I think I would lose my mind.

So even though life isn't really that bad there has been a lot of pain and suffering that I have been dealing with. I miss my community from this summer and the joy and growth I was experiencing. I have really been struggling with having that inexpressible and glorious joy lately and it stinks. I want so badly to be that joyful all the time and I know I can, I have just been struggling to understand how. I would say that I am an extrovert  and a lot of times I feel alone. So for me it's hard to see that joy when I'm alone. I have been blessed with a fabulous opportunity to disciple an amazing girl named Alison! I really value our time together each week and can say that she is helping me just as much as I hope that I am helping her! We started reading this book called Dancing with My Father the description says, "How God Leads Us into a  Life of Grace and Joy." So it's pretty much perfect for how I have been feeling and I absolutely love it! Something I read last week really caught my attention and pretty much sums up how I want to feel. "I want to celebrate the inner reality of  his Spirit, rather than live as a victim of circumstances in my outward reality." So that's what I'm striving for! Spending time in the word even when maybe I don't really feel like it. Dragging myself out of the bed and doing something beneficial. Going to hang out with friends when I feel like just staying by myself and watching tv. I hate being lazy but love it at the same time. I feel so much more productive and excited when I am super busy. When I don't have much going on I find that instead of taking that free time and really using it wisely I really don't do anything beneficial.

I know that right now I am experiencing a frustrating season of life. But I also know that I am going to come out stronger and more prepared for what lays ahead of me. I am excited to see where God is taking me and especially where I will end up next year!! Life is crazy and you never know what is going to happen next, we aren't even guaranteed tomorrow. I want to live my life to the fullest and with an overwhelming and contagious joy and peace. I am very thankful for my wonderful friends and family who support me no matter what and try their hardest to understand where I am at and how to encourage me :) Life is always good and it is impossible to truly have a bad day when you know Jesus and have eternal life!!

Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."


All I need to do to experience that joy is to rest in the presence of the Lord! This is extremely comforting but not always easy! But that's what I will continue to strive for and be excited that NOTHING can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ!


I want to share this song that is super comforting to me!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOPwjVCFc2E


P.S. I am absolutely loving my new favorite pandora station: Justin Bieber, Luke Bryan, and Meredith Andrews!

And Kristy and I's sweet bible study girls :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Project Recap

I'm home! This has definitely been an insane summer and I can't even explain how amazing it has been. Time really did fly and I cannot believe I am going back to school in just 4 days! It is going to be really difficult to recap all of my summer on here but I decided I would share a couple of prayers I had throughout the summer and some of my journal entries to help you get a glimpse of how God was working in my life in Santa Monica!

June 12, 2010

Heavenly Father, thank you for the heart of freedom you have given me. The friends you have blessed me with, and the money that you so quickly provided. It is obvious that I am supposed to be here and that you have something amazing in store for me. Prepare my heart to leave the past behind and to run forward. Bring peace and security to my soul, along with the motivation to pursue you and these new relationships. Cleanse me of my judgmental ways and purify my stained body. Thank you for your love and desire for my heart. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Show me how to enjoy this and continually seek you. Prepare me for the future and show me what steps to take. Thank you for your grace and unconditional love, remind me each day. Calm my fears and take away my anxieties. Create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Give me the desires and motivations to seek you with my whole heart. Develop in me a desire to learn and an attitude and comfort to get to know people on project and to be adventurous. Grow my heart for the lost and make that a strong passion and love that will last. Leave everything at home and draw me to you with arms high and heart abandoned. Renew in me a heart filled with the Holy Spirit. Teach me your ways, how to live in the spirit, and how to take on the fruits of the spirit. Guide me each day in who to talk to and how to spend my time. Let me open my lips to sing you praise and bring you glory in everything I do. Amen.

June 23, 2010

Lord, thank you for being loving, faithful, gracious, mighty, caring, comforting, and near. You have proclaimed these things in your word. I pray that you would reveal them to me daily. Thank you Father for valuing, loving, and redeeming me. Thank you for making me beautiful and giving me purpose. Remind me of these marvelous things you have done in my life and show me my worth. You have given me more than I could ever ask for or imagine. Show me how to express my thanks and live in such a way that represents your truth. Amen.

* I have never felt so loved and beautiful as I did this summer. Christ was able to show me how loved and special I am in  His eyes and I can finally appreciate that!

June 30, 2010

Lord, I know you are charting a safe course for me. Show me what that looks like; to live for you, love like you, and follow you. Show me what it looks like specifically this summer. I want to completely focus on you and serve you to the fullest. Show me what that means and looks like. What do I need to do in order to follow you? Lord be clear and obvious, take me deeper, draw me nearer.

Take away my fears. Fears of the unknown, of where I am supposed to be, of who I am supposed to be, of what I am supposed to be doing, of how I am to follow and live for you. Make my treasure be you completely. Allow nothing else to interfere or come between us. I honestly feel completely lost and do not know what to do. Make it so clear God. Shove it in my face, slap me with it, make me see who I need to be. Amen.

* I realized that this plan I had for my life was my plan and not His plan. I wanted to know what He wanted and stop trying to figure it out, I was able to better understand where I need to be going and to quit planning it for myself.

July 14, 2010

Tonight is date night with Jesus and I have been really excited about it all day. I was actually fasting today for the first time ever. It was easier than I thought and such a testimony to God's strength for the energy that I had at work. I didn't go to sleep until 2 am last night and didn't eat today so I shouldn't have been able to function. God is good isn't He! I wanted to grow on project, but I didn't realize things would be so difficult at times. The song "I'm falling to pieces" is playing in Krispy Kreme and at first I thought yeah that's me, but in reality I am not because I have Jesus and with that faith also comes hope and certainty that everything will work out. Looking back on what has happened so far on project I am continually seeing how sinful I am. I have seen how judgmental I am towards other girls and even guys. I have also seen how refreshing it is to relax and let somebody else be in control in certain situations, now if only I can learn how to let God be completely in control. I have seen how nice and genuine I CAN be to people and how much better things are when I am that way. I have been learning to look at things from an eternal perspective instead of simply the dot that is my life. I just read Luke 6:45 about guarding your heart. The commentary says, "What is in your heart will come out in your speech and behavior." God is shaking my world right now in all of the feelings and thoughts I have had this far about my future. I need to remember that God's plan is far GREATER than my own and I must be confident in the fact that whatever I think is of this world and that whatever He thinks will always be perfect and will trump what I think. Hebrews 11:40 says, "God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." Right now I just want to know what God's will is for my life but I am realizing more and more how much I just need to rest and wait on the Lord. It is crazy to analyze these things and really see how much I need to work on, especially to be more equipped as a bible study leader, but also knowing that I will never be fully equipped and it is only by God's grace that I have the opportunity to be in this position. I have realized how important it is for me to be strong and stand up for myself. There is so much to think about right now and I just want to be free here from all of these thoughts and worries. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6. Thank you for taking my pain and my anxieties.

July 23, 2010

Tonight we did one of the coolest things I have done. It was a treasure hunt evangelism style. We got into groups of 3 and 4. I was in a group with Annie, Cory, and Chris. Heather prayed for us and then we just sat quietly for 5-10 minutes praying and listening to what God was telling us through words, pictures, songs, or anything in general we thought of we would write down. We shared our words with each other and decided where we were going to start. Some of the words we had were yellow, white moving truck, cannons, Colorado, trees, food, McDonalds, dancing, Ferris wheel, cotton candy, Rage Against the Machine, and many more. So we started down California towards the pier. On the way we saw a white moving truck turn onto 8th street or so. We decided we had to follow it. It parked shortly after turning and the guys tried to talk to them. Unfortunately they didn’t speak English and asked us to leave. We kept walking and realized that McDonald’s is on the road named Colorado so we decided to head there. On the way we noticed the Whole Foods on the corner of a street covered in trees. We went that way to McDonalds and found a homeless man eating a sandwich. We started talking to him and learned that he grew up Baptist and believes that God is taking care of him. Chris had felt like he was supposed to grab chips at the church and ended up giving them to this guy. We had a nice long talk with him and prayed with him before heading to the McDonalds. We got there and Annie and I were headed to the restroom when the guys noticed one of 3 guys sitting on the curb outside. He was reading something so they went to ask what it was…the Bible! He ended up being a Christian from Kentucky who dropped everything, got on a bus and came to Santa Monica to witness to homeless people. He was so encouraged y the guys talking to him and he didn’t know what time or day it was but had enough money to survive on his own. We decided to keep walking and noticed a cannon by the pier. We stood around there for minute and Cory talked to a pretty crazy guy who just wanted money and food. We kept walking down the pier when we came across some guys break dancing to Rage Against the Machine. The ferris wheel and cotton candy were to their left and there were some girls sitting on a yellow curb. Annie and I really wanted to talk to someone and had been praying for God to show us who. We tried to talk to a lady who did not speak English. I had noticed these other two girls and we decided to give it a try. I can barely remember what really happened because it was so awesome. We just started talking about the dancers and what they were doing here. We found out that they were from Arizona about 45 minutes away from Annie. They were in high school and looking at going to UofA. They asked if we were Christian’s and we were able to tell them what we were doing this summer and specifically that night. They were catholic and within the last year became really involved in the youth group program at their church. They felt like God had worked in their lives so much and that He brought us to them. It was extremely encouraging talking about being a Christian in college, and about what God has been doing in their lives. We prayed with them and Annie gave them he number to talk about UofA it was so encouraging to see how God placed and guided us to all of these wonderful people.


August 10, 2010


Everything that I learned this summer revolves around one word, surrender. I have learned what it means to fully surrender all things to God and give him the entirety of my heart. I realized how many things I had made idols in my life that I hadn't even noticed at the time. In coming to this realization and having to truly give up these things so that they were no longer hindrances in my relationship with Him I was able to learn the importance of relying on God. My thoughts and actions are not my own and I should seek and trust Him in all things. The one thing I really wanted to get out of project internally was how to be intimate with God. Through being completely reliant on Him I have learned to pray more and really come to the Lord with anything and everything that is on my mind. In regards to evangelism my thoughts have really changed. I now better understand how to naturally evangelize. I am more equipped to listen and ask questions as well as how to transfer into the gospel. It is so important to share our faith with others and it really can be easy. Be open and friendly and really pray for opportunities to share. My life literally completely changed this summer and I am trusting God that He will continue to guide me and make each step clear. I can't do anything alone so Lord step in and take over. I am ready and willing to follow you. 


* This summer truly was amazing and I have learned so much and grown in so many ways that I could not have even imagined before! God is so good and He is always near! I have had so much joy this summer and I know that it is all from Him and I am so thankful for what He has done and is continuing to do in my life! If you have any questions please feel free to ask I cannot wait to continue sharing my experiences! God flipped my world upside down this summer and I am so excited to see where He takes me!!


"The deeper you and I are rooted in the unfailing love of God, the less we sway when the winds of life blow harshly." Beth Moore


"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:6-9

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cookie Brownies and Goodbyes

So I am sitting in my motel room in Santa Monica right now, crazy. I can't believe I have already been here for 5 days, it feels like just yesterday I was finding out about the trip. It was difficult saying goodbye to everyone at home but I know that it will all be worth it! I am not going to go into much detail about project right now but just know that the Holy Spirit is here and God is going to do amazing things this summer! I absolutely love my roommates and made a ton of other great friends all ready. I had one day of training for my job at the summer camp and I know I am going to love my job :) We have already had some opportunities to go sharing and just see what some of the thoughts and opinions are of people here, it is crazy and such a reality check. I expected that it would be different and I am not too blown away, but it is just frustrating to see people so against Christianity when they don't even really understand it or when they think they do. The group of students here are wonderful and the desire to learn and grow in our faith is so evident!

Anyways on to the recipe...Wednesday before I left was my good friends birthday and so I wanted to bake something! His girlfriend is also one of my best friends and she had told her sister about my baking...so of course I had to bake something for his birthday and for her to take home to her family! I decided on cookie brownies or whatever you want to call them! Since I had to leave at 5:30 the next morning I settled on the box mix and made my own ganache.

I wasn't able to take pictures of them cooled and cut because my wonderful mom had to get them ready for my friends :) But here is the basic recipe and some pictures I was able to take!!

Read the back of the box for directions:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars


1. Mix together the ingredients for the brownies in one bowl.
2. Mix together the ingredients for the cookies in another bowl.
3. Pour the brownie batter in the bottom of a 13x9, 9x9, or 8x8 greased pan.
4. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough on top of the batter.
5. Place in the oven for 35-50 minutes depending on pan size. (It says on the back of the box)
- I used a 13x9 and baked them for about 38 minutes.

*Let them cool as you make the ganache.         



























Chocolate Ganache
 12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp. butter


1. Melt the butter and cream in a saucepan just before it comes to a boil.
2. Pour the creamy mixture over the chocolate chips.
3. Let sit for 20 seconds and then stir together until creamy.
4. Pour the ganache over top of the cookie brownies and let sit for about 30 min - 1 hour for best results.
5. As soon as you are ready you can serve!!
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I read something recently and I can't remember where but I told my cousin and thought it was one of the coolest things I had heard. It was somewhere along the lines of, it is not about how much you're getting from the Holy Spirit but how much you're giving. The Holy Spirit is always there and always ready to work but it's up to you to follow through and seek Him. Don't wait around to "feel" something take steps of faith, pray, and seek the Lord and the Holy Spirit will be the driving force behind every aspect of your life. Many times I find myself waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak to me, but I am even talking to Him in the first place?

"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 
2 Corinthians 5:5

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Apple Streusel Bars

What a wonderful weekend I have had! One of my really good friends from High School came to visit. We did so much and just had so much fun talking, singing, baking, going out to eat, and so much more! I am so thankful for good friends and think that I have some of the best! I also realized that I don't have to go to class or anywhere on Monday, how exciting! 


I just wanted to post the dessert that I made for our bible study party because I have gotten a ton of compliments on it and agree that it was delicious! I got it from Lovin' From the Oven who I absolutely love:)


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup real butter, softened
  • 1 egg
Apple Filling:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 medium apples
Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

To prepare crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles. Gently mix in beaten egg.

Spray a 9x13  or 9x9 baking dish
 with non-stick cooking spray. Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish. Preheat oven to 350 and set aside.
To prepare apple filling, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Toss with apples and spread apples out on prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over apples evenly and bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. When finished, allow to cool completely.

To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Place glaze in a Ziploc bag and cut off a very small portion of one of the corners. Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden. 
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I've been thinking a lot about how much Jesus cares for each and every one of us. The fact that he pays so much attention to us and is always there no matter what. This just really made me question how much I care about other people and how much attention I pay to my friends and even people I don't really know. If the Lord is so good to me shouldn't I share that with others? How can I accept the love and care He has for me and not return the favor to Him and others on earth. I really should think about other people's feelings more and what I can do for them in any situation. It's not all about me no matter how much I think that sometimes. I need to constantly be reminding myself who I am living for and what that looks like. How can I represent Jesus better and show His love to those around me?

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mom's I know! Especially mine, she is such a wonderful mom and friend and I am so thankful for her and all she does for my family and I! I also have some pretty amazing grandma's and I wish that I could spend more time with them. I love you all and hope you have a fabulous day and are treated wonderfully because you really deserve it. I am sorry I cannot be with you but I am thinking about you and will see you soon!

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When Summer Comes Around...

This post is going to be a little bit different than normal. I only have 6 days left of my sophomore year of college, crazy I know. I have actually done quite a bit of baking/cooking the past week or so but of course as I mentioned my camera battery is dead...we will work on that when I get home. I have to have my camera for California :) I still can't believe I am actually going to CA for 8 weeks! Everything is really winding down and I am definitely having mixed emotions. I am extremely excited to be done with classes but a couple of things that must end for the year are what really make me sad...
         
Today was my last day with the 3rd grade class I have been interning with this semester. They had a party for me celebrating my being there not my leaving! (The teacher had to clarify because the students didn't understand why they would celebrate me leaving them) Working with them was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had. They each wrote me a letter and drew a picture that the teacher put into a notebook for me! As soon as I got there this morning they all starting giving me hugs and saying that they didn't want me to leave. I almost cried as soon as I walked in when one little boy who I have been working with a lot this semester ran up to me with a simple drawing and said this is you Miss. Mandy and this is me! We were standing next to a tree with a blue sky, one cloud, and a beautiful sun! I remember constantly when I visited my Aunt's class last year and the notes her students wrote me when I left. I cannot wait until I am a real teacher. It is stuff like this that continually reminds me that I am in the right field. I absolutely love being in the classroom and working with the students. I taught my first lesson on Monday on Christopher Columbus and almost all of them wrote in their letters how much they liked it when I taught and loved the craft I did with them! It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to work with these students, they bring me so much joy and laughter! I know it will not always be easy but it is a journey that I am willing to take and I cannot wait.  I am now one step closer to being a teacher and I cannot wait until it is my turn to be in charge!
          
Last week was our final bible study of the year and it was such an enjoyable time. We went to a couple of the girls house and had a party making our own pizza and just hanging out for a couple of hours. It was so wonderful just being able to fellowship with those awesome girls that I have gotten to know so much better this year. I am so excited for next year and the potential for us all to become even closer. It is crazy how the Lord puts certain people in our lives for a reason and at the perfect time. I am so thankful for these girls and cannot wait until next fall! I found out that I will be a bible study leader next year and with one of those amazing girls from my study! The Lord has really blessed me and I have seen so much growth in my life over the past year! 

Here are some pictures from our fabulous pizza/end of the year party!



Recipe for homemade dough:
1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water 
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little for coating
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the olive oil and yeast mixture into it. Stir until it begins to form a ball, then turn it out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for 4-5 min.

 






    P.S. It is one of my best friend's birthday's today. Happy Birthday Logan! You are wonderful :)


    "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." 
    Philippians 4:5

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Okay so I have been wanting to update this so bad and I am so mad that I haven't. Here's the thing, my battery for my camera died and I can't find my charger which means no pictures. I have been baking a decent amount though. So today I decided I am going to post anyways without pictures. I apologize though and you will just have to trust me that these are amazing. 
    Last Tuesday I found out that I got the job I was hoping for this summer and to celebrate wanted to bake some cookies. I only had white chocolate chips and found this fabulous recipe. They were seriously the best I have ever had.


    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 cup flour
    • 2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
    • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 pkg. white vanilla chocolate chips
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. When both bowls are well mixed gradually add the dry mixture in with the wet until well combined. Then pour in as many chocolate chips as you would like. Spoon out about tablespoon sizes of dough onto your cookie sheet (will need 2) and pop in the oven for about 8 minutes. I like mine just barely done but if you like yours more crisp you can put them in for 10 minutes. 

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    I honestly cannot believe that the semester and entire school year will be over in just 3 weeks. And in exactly 7 weeks I will be on my way to California for 8 weeks! Wow God is so good, I have survived this year and so far made the best grades this semester of all of my college career. I am going to California! I still find myself saying this daily and sometimes randomly screaming with excitement. If you had asked me in August where I would be this summer I would probably say at home hopefully working with kids. I had absolutely no intention of going anywhere else let alone California. But God works in our lives in mysterious and wonderful ways and I am so excited to be traveling across the United States to spend my summer with other students and staff from Campus Crusade who have a desire to grow closer to the Lord and share his precious word, how awesome is that!

    So I have been learning a ton since my last post and could write for hours but I am going to share just one thing that has really hit me hard recently. I know I have talked about the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" already, seriously girls you need to read this, especially if you are anything like me! I have this attitude so often that I can do it on my own and I would rather because then I know that it will turn out perfect. How selfish is that...besides the fact that NOTHING is perfect except for our wonderful Savior. So anyways one of the chapters talks about Intimacy with God and just spending time with Him. It sounds like such a simple concept but honestly how hard is it to continually just sit down relax and hang out with God? It talks about how when we ask the Lord to take over our lives and wipe away the desires of our sinful nature that we are essentially inviting him into "our home." So we show him all around; this is the room that I eat in, this is the room where I watch tv, and the room where I sleep. And then we have an extra room where I will have my quiet time with you. (Please don't take this as putting Jesus in a room but instead having a designated place where you just hang out just you and the Lord) I hope this is making sense; but anyways you make a decision together that I will meet you here everyday maybe at x time. You start going and having a wonderful time just hanging out and listening to God. But after a couple of days or maybe weeks you get busy and you rush by that room at x time. After a couple of days of being "too busy" you glance in and see the Lord sitting there waiting. 

    He is waiting for you EVERY DAY because that time means something to Him as well. How often do we overlook that special time and breeze by on our way to a meeting or class. Just imagine your Heavenly Father waiting for you every day no matter how many times you skip out on Him, or think you are to busy, He cares and He is always waiting. Don't make Him wait, run to that room each and every day even multiple times, then invite Him to walk with you throughout the rest of the day and guide you into each aspect of your life and day. You will feel so much better and the decisions you make will not be your own but His. 

    I will be updating more often as soon as I can. I do have some pictures on a friends camera so as soon as they are uploaded I will be sharing a few more recipes!

    Also if you have read this far check out Lovin' From the Oven. I made her oreo chocolate chip cookies the other day and they were fabulous!

    "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." Psalm 145:13

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Healthified Chocolate Chip Cookies

    This recipe comes from a site (eatbetteramerica) I stumbled across one day last semester when I was in search of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (and my boyfriends). This was unfortunately not his favorite but quickly became a contender for one of mine. Of course no cookies are healthy but these are supposed to be a healthier version with 21% fewer calories • 42% less sat fat • 14% less fat than the original recipe. It honestly does not make too much of a difference but it makes me feel like it does! 



                  Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup and 2 tbs baking splenda 
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
    • 1/2 cup canola oil 
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
    • 1 egg 
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
    • 1 cup  semisweet chocolate chips
    The splenda can be replaced with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar if you prefer.

    Heat oven to 375°. In a large bowl mix together the splenda, brown sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, and egg. Gradually beat in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until light golden brown. 


    It is that simple and probably takes about 30-45 minutes total. My roommates think they are addicting, and I would have to agree! But beware they are not your average chocolate chip cookies, the wheat flour gives it a slightly different taste but one that I love!

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    I am going through the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World with my discipler and absolutely loving it. This week we studied the chapter discussing distraction, discouragement, and doubt. Satan's favorite ways to trap us into believing his lies that we are not good enough and Jesus does not truly love and care about us. How often do you find yourself asking God why don't you care? The interesting thing is that it isn't that He doesn't care it is that we don't fully believe and trust Him. Satan talks us into becoming distracted that we are so busy, too busy for precious time with the Lord. We quickly become discouraged that we aren't doing enough or simply that things aren't going our way. This is when doubt can quickly creep in making us feel worthless and like no one cares. Fortunately we have this amazing book filled with His word that we can always look to and seek wisdom from our Father. 


    "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Raspberry Stuffed Chicken


    Ingredients:
    • 4 Chicken breasts 
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Montreal Chicken Seasoning
    • 1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
    • 24 Spinach leaves
    • 4 Tomatoes (medium-large)
    • Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
    • Toothpicks
    Preheat the oven to 400°. Dice up all of your spinach leaves and set aside. Take each tomato and cut the top off. Dice up the tops and set aside. Empty the tomatoes so that they are just the shells. Take your piece of chicken and with a sharp knife cut along one side in the middle of the breast. Be careful not to go all the way through. Pick up the top piece of your cut and place a little spinach, tomato, and mozzarella in each pocket. Use toothpicks to secure the top and bottom of the now stuffed breast. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the chicken. It does not have to be Montreal chicken seasoning but any other kind you like and sprinkle to cover the breast. Pour the raspberry vinaigrette dressing or I have also used balsamic over the chicken, place on a broiling pan and in the oven for 45 min-1 hr. When I cook just one breast I do it for 30 minutes but the more breasts the longer it needs. 

    Ingredients for sides:
    • 4 medium sized red potatoes
    • 4 tomato shells (left over from the ones you used for the chicken)
    • shredded mozzarella cheese
    • shredded cheddar cheese
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 8 spinach leaves (left over from the ones you used for the chicken)
    If you wanted to make these sides as well they are very simple. I just diced up the potatoes put them on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them. Place in the 400° oven for 30 minutes. The tomato shells I filled with the remaining spinach and a sprinkle of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Those can be place in the oven with the potatoes when there is about 5 minutes remaining on the timer. 

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    Today I was not feeling well and really should have been doing more homework than I have. I took a nice nap and was in the mood to cook. I searched the refrigerator for something I could do pretty quickly that would also be nourishing. This is what I came up with, the ingredients can easily be interchanged with a different type of cheese, dressing, or vegetable. If I have mushrooms I like to put them in the chicken as well. 

    Isn't it funny how we can be feeling ill or just crummy but there is always something that can make us feel better? It could be a tv show or movie, friends or family, even a good book or nap. Aside from these materialistic things my favorite thing to make me feel "better" is remembering the love of my savior and the joy that it gives me. No matter what has happened, how I'm feeling, or what is going on I know that I can always count on His love. It  is a feeling that surpasses any other and thankfully one that never fails. 

    "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:12

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    The Beginning

    I cannot believe that I am starting a blog. I cannot guarantee that it will last long and will probably not be updated too frequently. With all of my school work it is hard to find a lot of time to cook and then to write about it. I love to cook and bake and was just thinking it would be neat to record everything that I do or most of it. So this is somewhat experimental, just work with me!