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Monday, October 27, 2014

Confession Of A Church Girl

Confession Of A Church Girl

Bitterness, confusion, and anger defined my life. They sat like boulders on my shoulders, weighing my entire existence. For the first few months, many would look at me and say "I miss that smile of yours; I can tell you're unhappy."

I began to fake a smile so that everyone would move on. I did things that made me happy, and I tried to ignore the feelings that eagerly threatened to overtake me, saving sadness and silent sobbing for my pillow every night. This worked well, and most people thought I was happy, but a few knew otherwise.

There are some people you can't hide your feelings from because they love others so deeply that they see right through the mask of phoniness. It wasn't long after being around them that my throat tightened as I held back tears that no one else saw. I'd tell them how I felt, and in return they'd listen, they'd love, they'd understand. They did exactly what Jesus did every time I cried out to Him.

A year ago, God revealed to me that I had taken little action in the five years of bitterness, confusion, and anger. I had been quick to defend myself and God over an issue that hit so close to home, and I did it at the expense of hurting others. These people just needed three things. They needed someone to listen, to love, and to understand. They needed someone to come alongside them and love them as deeply as Christ loves them. Instead, I debated them. Instead, I spoke quickly and listened little. Instead, I did not show Christ-like love.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't speak the truth, because we should. What I'm saying is that I did not speak truth at the right time, and I definitely didn't speak the truth in love. Rather than showing Christ's love to them, I showed them fiery and reckless words and tacked on scripture after scripture for authoritative measure, failing to follow the WWJD motto in the process. I did this to so many, mostly over social media, and I don't even remember who they were in order to apologize to them. My prayer is that they will read this and let me know so that I can personally apologize.

In the past year, I've been focusing on my attitude. I'm learning to love deeply, and its been a beautiful process. In doing so, the feelings of bitterness, confusion, and anger are turning into contentment, clarity, and cheer. In doing so, some have asked my opinion on different issues, and I've been able to share the truth in love and at the right time.

Through this process, I've allowed the following scripture to saturate my heart and mind, and its become my prayer that others see Christ when they see me.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Small Ways To Help Others.

First, click here to read Luke 10:30-35
    The Good Samaritan is a well-known story. We often focus on how we'd expect the priest or the Levite, the good and faithful guys, to help the man. Instead, it's the Samaritan who helps. I want to focus on something else though. The man that everyone is passing is in obvious need of help. He is stripped of his clothing, wounded, and half dead. HALF DEAD. Imagine someone hits a person with their car and continues driving, and you drive by and see them laying there in such bad shape that their life is at stake. I would hope you'd get out and help them. I'm sure you'd get out and help them. However, there are people we pass from day to day who are half dead, so to speak, and we are too busy with our lives to take notice and help them. We sort of become the good and faithful who fail to take notice. Watch the video below to see what I mean. I'm guilty of this myself. 

    Take Action! Below are some simple ways to help others. You may not know what someone is going through by looking at them, but it's safe to assume that each person you come in contact with is going through something. Choose to help others. 

10 Small Ways To Help Others

1. Buy someone coffee, gas, or their meal without them knowing. 

I've never paid for someone's gas, but when I worked for a gas station, there were two times when someone wanted to pay for another's gas. You can give the cashier cash and ask them to use it for the next person who comes in to pay using cash. I have purchased someone's meal before. You can do this in a restaurant or at a drive-thru. It's great way to surprise someone and remind them that there is still good in the world. You may just help someone going through a rough-patch financially. 

2. Write a note of encouragement to a neighbor or friend. 

When I was in college, I would find notes with scripture and words of encouragement written. Sometimes I knew who they came from, and sometimes I didn't. Either way, they brightened my day and reminded me that things would be okay. 

3. When someone makes a driving mistake, keep your hand off the horn and your hands on the wheel. 

This is a hard one. There was a time when I'd honk my horn or throw my hands up in attempts to place blame and make sure they were aware they'd done wrong. Sometimes, it is necessary. Sometimes, people drive like crazy on purpose, which is crazy itself. However, a lot of times, people simply make a mistake. They don't see you. They aren't paying as much attention as they should. We've all made driving mistakes. OOPS! Sometimes you can see them grimace when they realize their mistake. Each time I drive, I try to think before I beep, which is easiest to do when my day is going well. Choose to let someone off the hook, especially if you've done the same thing before. Chances are, it wasn't intentional. If you're like me, you'll need to take a deep breath to keep from laying on the horn. If I can do it, anyone can! 

4. Compliment a stranger. 

The best compliments can come from perfect strangers, because they are typically most genuine. If you like someone's outfit, tell them. If that person is having a bad day, I guarantee you'll make it slightly better. 

5. Pay for someone's ticket. 

I've heard of people paying for  parking tickets that they see on cars on main street. They leave a note with cash folded inside saying "No need for a bad day. Enjoy your day!" 

6. Put your phone down and strike up a conversation. 

We live in an awkward society where everyone is looking at their phone while they sit in a waiting room. It won't be easy to do, but try putting your phone down and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Chances are, they'll be looking at their phone too, so you might have to start with a complement so that they'll look up. People are often hiding behind their gadgets. I am living in a new area and I LOVE getting to know new people in the area. It may sound strange, but I seem to have met more elderly people than anyone else, because they are the ones not hooked on their phones. Be that old lady. It's cooler than you'd think. 

7. Encourage parents with small children. 

Do you see a kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store? Instead of grimacing and looking the other way, smile and let that parent know that things will be okay. If a parent is correcting their child instead of letting them have their way, compliment their efforts. If you've been there, tell a story about when you were a mom or dad. For example, one time my brother was having a tantrum in a store, and my mom, frazzled by his continuing behavior, decided to throw a tantrum in the aisle as well. It may sound insane, but it worked. My brother never ever threw a tantrum again, at least, not in public. I don't think anyone would encourage her 'moment,' and she probably wouldn't either, but instead of turning your head, at least offer a smile and a statement like "it'll be okay." 

8. Give up the closest parking spot. 

If you don't have a deadline, choose a parking spot further away from the store. Not only will you get extra fresh air and exercise, but you'll help someone in a rush along the way. 

9. Befriend someone in a nursing home. 

There is nothing exciting or wonderful about a nursing home, especially for the one that lives there. I mean, how would you like to be stuck inside all day with little to do? Some of those people don't even have family visiting them. Take an hour or so every other week and hang out with the elderly. If you play music, take a guitar. If you love crafts, hand some out. If you have children, take them with you. When my grandpa was in the nursing home, we'd hang out in the common room. Elderly people loved watching my brother, sister, and I interact with each other, even if it was sibling rivalry. They loved telling us stories or jokes. They loved being around us. While I never loved nursing homes, I learned to love those people, and I honestly was entertained by many of them. 

10. Smile. 

If nothing else, smile at strangers throughout your day. It may sound small, but it's true that they are contagious!

I'm always looking for small ways to help others. If you have any that I haven't listed, feel free to share in the comments below! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

For Real Men Only

Will the real men please stand up? This blog post is for you!

For Real Men Only

There are many boys, yes ‘boys,’ who still treat women disrespectfully, but somehow manage to get so much attention. You know them. When dating, they are commonly called ‘bad boys’ and for some reason, it’s the bad boys that women often chase, leaving real men choking in the dust.

Eventually though, the dust settles, and we see you in the distance. We notice as you continue to open doors for us, listen to us, and pray for us. Some women continue to chase the bad boys, but others realize that it’s the real man who is deserving of our time and our effort.

For all the times we've focused on the bad boys, we have often forgot to thank you for being a real man. If we are married, engaged, or dating you, we sometimes forget to appreciate the qualities that make you a real man.

On behalf of all women out there, I would like to say that you are doing a phenomenal job.

 Thank You!

  • For praying for your wife, fiancĂ©, girlfriend, sister, mom, friend, or even stranger.
  • For opening doors.
  • For being quick to listen, and slow to speak.
  • For not making stereotypical jokes about women.
  • For TRYING to understand us. (I admit, this is no easy task.)
  • For leading by example.
  • For standing up for us.
  • For complimenting us even on our bad days.
  • For doing the less-desired chores. (Ex. taking out the trash)
  • For being a REAL MAN! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15 Tips For The Perfect Love Letter

When my husband and I began dating, he moved to Oregon to get his Master's degree soon after we met in undergrad while I stayed on the east coast. That summer, I went to a camp where the only communication with the outside world was mail. For the entire summer, we communicated through letters. Today, we have every letter sent to us, and sometimes we pull one out and read it. Since this was how our relationship began, we continued to write letters every other month. Even now that we are married and see each other daily, we will occasionally write letters to each other.

The list below is based on the many letters we've written to each other both from the beginning to now. Each letter didn't include every item listed, but I noticed that number's 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 14 were a part of every letter I sent to him and a part of every letter he sent to me.

Good luck!

15 Tips For the Perfect Love Letter

1. Uplift them.

If you say they are amazing, explain why. Maybe it's their positive attitude, patience, happiness, or strength that you notice day after day. Uplift a quality that you find attractive and that they do well. It's so easy to beat ourselves up over what we aren't doing well, therefore, it can be extremely encouraging to be reminded of something we are doing well.

2. Share your feelings.

Even if you've been married for years, there is always something to learn. Your spouse wants to know how you feel about things going on in life. How is work going? What did you think of a sermon? What's new? How's life in general? Going into detail about any of these is great way to communicate your feelings.

3. Show interest in their talents.

Do they play an instrument? Do they love to write? Do they like carpentry? Do they play a sport? Do they love fashion? Do they like to fix things? Take the time to listen, to read, to watch, and to try and understand their talent and why they enjoy it, and explain how well they do. My husband recently wrote a letter and explained that he had read all of my blog posts. Knowing that he read them meant a lot to me.

4. Encourage and appreciate their talents.

Not only did he read my blog posts, he explained how much he liked them and encouraged me to continue doing what I love. Encouraging someone not to give up on something they enjoy shows just how much you care about their well-being.

5. Remind.

Remind them why you are with them. This can be done by writing a little about when you first met and how they made you feel. It can also be done by writing about something more current. You might remind them of a promise you made to each other. For example, early on in our relationship, my husband and I decided that God would be in the center of our relationship. Sometimes, it's nice to be reminded of a promise made and it shows that you intend to keep that promise by simply remembering.

6. Three words, I Love you.

 Make sure to write this somewhere at least once every time you write a letter. It's crucial, and needs no explanation.

7. Show your contentment for the present and excitement about the future.

When I see that my husband is content about life in the present, I am also content about the present too. Yes, life is crazy, hard to understand, and not always rosy. Recently, my husband and I found out we were expecting and that he was to be laid off from work at the end of the year all within the same month that his dad ended his battle with cancer. It's not easy to be content in times like these, but he was still able to say that he was happy I was by his side through the whole process and he knew that God had plans bigger than our own.

The other day, my husband wrote a letter to me and described his excitement about soon becoming a dad. Seriously, I love his excitement for our future, and it fills me with joy when I know he looks forward to our lives together.

8. Be positive, but be real.

Relationships are hard work, and when that's coupled with difficulties in life, it can be easy to think negatively and display that in writing. Try to write positively, but don't be fake either. If something has been bothering you lately, it's good to write out your feelings. Maybe you can't find a job and you're feeling down. There is nothing wrong with writing about this, but be sure to find some positivity in the situation as well. Let them know you aren't going to give up.

9. Reassure.

If your relationship isn't going great or if you are dealing with hard times in life, reassure them that things will be okay, that you will get through it together. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with positivity.

10. Remember.

While you know your spouse now, you didn't know them before you met them, which means there's a whole childhood that you don't know. If you did know one another as children, there are obviously still stories they haven't heard. Feel free to share a story if it fits in with your letter. Keep it short though. You aren't writing a memoir.

11. Be sweet.

It may sound silly men, but ladies like when they see hearts drawn, smiley faces, x's and o's, etc. Not only do they feel loved, but they see you are willing to embrace your feminine side, which we know isn't easy for a guy. It also shows that you enjoyed writing the letter too, and that you were willing to have fun while doing so. Of course ladies, the same goes for you. Guys might not admit it, but they love all the little hearts you add in the margins. Maybe it all goes back to little love notes and flirting. Regardless, everyone secretly loves these old-school emoticons.

12. Write what comes naturally.

Essentially, be yourself. Write what comes to your mind. Don't try to emulate another's letter, just write what comes naturally. Sometimes it's easiest to act like you are having a conversation with them and haven't talked in a while. What would you want to catch up on?

13. Date the letter.

Your spouse will likely reread this letter. Make sure to add the date so they remember when it was written.

14. Handwrite.

Don't type, even if you have terrible writing. If you can't spell, use spell-check or a dictionary, but don't type a letter for the sake of ease. Handwritten letters take more time to write than typed letters. They allow you to collect your thoughts and think about what you want to write as you are writing. More effort goes into handwriting something, therefore it will be much more appreciated. Plus, handwriting is rare in our technology-filled world, so it's bound to be much more special.

15. Write a scripture/quote.

Do this if you want to write a little about the scripture/quote. If it is something that resonates with you and you'd like to share it with them, you should do that. It's another way to share your thoughts and feelings.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Perfect Pecan Pumpkin Spread

Perfect Pecan Pumpkin Spread


Perfect spread to use with crepes, pancakes, bagels, and more!

Prep time: 5 minutes


8oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (light)
1 cup Libby's Canned Pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup crushed candied or plain pecans
Cinnamon (optional)


Mix together cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add sugar, nutmeg, and pecans. Mix ingredients together. Once spread onto desired crepes, pancakes, or bagels, sprinkle cinnamon on top and enjoy. If you are making crepes or pancakes, don't forget to add whipped cream!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Am I Pretty Or Ugly?

Am I Pretty Or Ugly?

Today, I watched a TED video titled "Why Thinking You're Ugly Is Bad For You." Of course, I think it's safe to say that every woman has felt ugly or unappealing at one point or another. You know those days. That pimple on your nose will NOT disappear no matter what you do. You woke up not feeling well. Your hair won't cooperate.

Yeah. I've been there too.

I clicked on the video because even though I've had my 'ugly' moments, I agreed with the title. Yes, sometimes I have ugly days, but typically I feel pretty, I look presentable, and I don't let those ugly days define my self-worth. I remember what God thinks of me, what my husband thinks of me, what friends and family think of me, and because of this, I've learned to deal with the bad along with the good.

I completely agreed with everything stated in this video, but there was one thing that I didn't believe. Meaghan Ramsey claimed that girls were uploading 'Am I Ugly' videos onto Youtube.  Stunned by this information, I quickly searched those words on Youtube. Clicking enter, I found page upon page of 'Am I Ugly' videos. I checked out some of them, just to get a feel for what they were about, and in most of them, the girls looked sad. Some explained their reasoning for making the video. There were reasons like: everyone at school says I'm ugly, boys don't like me, I'm trying to look pretty, but I just feel ugly. They upload these videos and wait for the comments to come pouring in. They wait for complete strangers who don't know anything about them, about their true worth, to define their beauty.

Assuming uplifting comments would outweigh any negative comments, I checked to see what people were writing. What I saw brought me to tears. Yes. Tears. I can't even bear giving examples of some of the comments I saw, but I know that these words are cutting jaggedly into the hearts and minds of the girls who post these videos. I know some of you might be thinking "shame on them for posting a video and not being prepared for the worse."

No. Shame on us. Shame on parents, on mentors, on family and friends who aren't saying a thing about true beauty or self-worth. As women, many of us have learned how to cope with feeling less-than attractive. These adolescent girls don't know how to cope, and they are at their most vulnerable years. You remember them. They aren't fun, and kids are mean. I remember coming home from school much of my 7th grade year sobbing into my pillow from the hateful things kids said about me. If it weren't for my mom teaching me how to cope, I wouldn't be the same person I am today. Some aren't lucky enough to have a parent so directly involved in their child's life to know when they're at rock-bottom.

If you are directly involved with adolescents, please please please don't toss this topic to the side, assuming they'll figure it out on their own. Encourage. Educate. Empower. And remember, you are beautiful too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Savory Beef Vegetable Soup

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 5-7 servings


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 medium onion
1 clove of garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
15.5 oz. can white hominy (drained)
32 oz. vegetable broth
10.5 oz. Campbell's condensed tomato soup
2 and 1/4 cups of water
12 oz. frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup elbow noodles
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a large pot, cook ground beef on medium heat. Drain grease. Chop onion and clove of garlic into small pieces and add with the ground beef. Once onion is cooked down, add hominy and mix together. Continue cooking for about five minutes. Add vegetable broth, condensed tomato soup, and water. Stir together. Add vegetables, elbow noodles, and cayenne pepper. Stir. Heat soup to boiling, reduce to simmer and cover with lid. Allow soup to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

Enjoy! Be sure to let me know what you think and feel free to add suggestions in the comments!

Savory Beef Vegetable Soup

Note: I've made variations of this soup before. If you do not wish to add hominy, simply omit and add a cup and a half more elbow noodles. I personally like the texture that the hominy gives the soup.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Forgive Them

Luke 23:34: He forgave them

This past sunday, a boy around 8 raised his hand near the end of service. The pastor noticed and responded. The boy asked, "Why didn't God punish the people who killed Jesus?" The pastor said, "Because, Jesus forgave them." The little boy frowned. "How did He 'forgave' them?" The pastor then explained how Jesus asked his Father to forgive them while he was hanging on the cross. The little boy then walked up and handed the pastor a picture he'd been drawing during the sermon of Jesus on the cross and the soldiers below. He pointed and said that the soldiers were mean to Jesus, but he still cared about them. The pastor said, "yes, and he forgave them."

I shared this story on facebook yesterday, and then explained the following: 

The church learned more in those few short minutes than the rest of service combined. 
1. Children are paying attention, and they want to know who Jesus is. 
2. They see what many adults fail to recognize, that in a crazy world telling us to seek revenge when wronged, Jesus is drastically different. 
3. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. You see, many expected that the pastor would keep talking and ignore the boy's raised hand, but instead, he did exactly what Jesus had once done when he wanted the children to be around him. He acknowledged the boy, and allowed the service to be changed up. This is exactly what it means to strive toward being like Jesus, and it took less than five minutes to learn or be reminded of these things.

This child-like wonder affected me so greatly that this morning, while spending time studying God's word, I looked up the verse where Jesus said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." I've read and heard about Jesus dying on the cross so many times in my life, and yet I had never before realized the context of these words spoken by my Savior. I had assumed the words related to them hanging him on the cross to die, and that in part is true, but what I never noticed before was the rest of this verse. The verse goes on to say, "And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." I didn't add this part in the picture above, because I have a feeling you'll want to check for yourself. 
In the next five verses, we see the rulers, the soldiers, and one of the thieves mocking Jesus. He asked God to forgive them right before they began humiliating him as he was dying! He knew what they were going to do before they even began doing it, and he had already wanted them to be forgiven. If it weren't enough to forgive them for killing him, for whipping him, for placing a sharp-crowned bed of thorns on his head, and other events that lead up to him on the cross, he forgave them for what would make me want to hate them. Even as I write this, my throat is tight in aggravation of how they treated a dying man, their very own Savior nonetheless. 

Thousands of years later, child-like wonder changed the way one sermon ended, and made at least one person see this well-known story in a new light, overwhelming her with his love for ALL of mankind, including those that mock him. 

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