Friday, June 28, 2013

Today is your birthday!

Today is my friend Sarah's birthday!


This is a pic of me and Sarah from my wedding.  When you're wearing your white wedding dress and you want your mother-in-law's delish baked ziti, Sarah is the type of friend who goes and finds you a bib so that you can chow down without offending your dress with red pasta sauce.  She is rock star awesome.

Sarah and I met in college.  She was friends with Beth.  I was friends with Beth.  Beth was busy, so eventually Sarah and I hung out without Beth.  (We love Beth mind you, and are very thankful that it was through being friends with her that we found each other).

In college we shared many a good time, often revolving around food because that is how we roll...mmmm....rolls.  Rolls from O'Charley's were one of our many vices.

We enjoyed many a random road trip to Bham and tons of crazy moments that probably really weren't that funny but we laughed ourselves into hysteria anyways.

When Beth moved to Seattle and got married we flew out for her wedding.  We spent a crazy amount of time while in Seattle not exploring the city but instead staying in our sketchy hotel room eating Taco Bell and watching CSI.  I know, try to contain yourself at the mental image of all that debauchery and wildness.  We both will tell you, that was one of the best trips we've ever taken.

Sarah is the very definition of a good friend.  She is faithful and loyal.  She loves you even when you're the ugliest sinful version of yourself.  She is the type of friend you want because she holds you accountable and will confront you with your sin and tell you to not be stupid.  That is rare people!  Do you understand the value of a friend like that?

Sarah is the friend I go to with a crisis; the one I've called and said "Can I come to town today?" and she says to come and so I drive 4 hours and she listens to me cry and takes me to dinner.

Sarah is the friend I call for prayer, the one I go to when I need to vent and throw around curse words cause they make me feel better.  The friend who knows more about my mess than anyone.  She is a constant source of truth and encouragement.  She is the friend who can have vodka and doughnuts for dinner with and she does not judge.  Oh yes, you are jealous now for sure that I claim her for my BFF.

I've lost a lot of friendships since college, but I'm so thankful that God in His wisdom and goodness has allowed she and I to remain close.  She is the one of the first who found out I was engaged.  She will be one of the first to know when we have a baby.  She is one of my speed dials, and I only have three.

So, today I celebrate Sarah.  If I had the ability and means to throw her a parade and make her queen for the day, I would do it.  Her presence in my life is invaluable.  I'm glad that before time began, God dreamed her up, and that Jesus called her into being.  Happy, happy birthday my wonderful friend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Which I Did Nothing

So this past Saturday the hubs was at a volleyball tournament all day.

Really, all day, you should see his spectacular sock tan line.  Hands down, best I have ever seen :)

Anywho, he took off early for that so I decided that I needed a day with no checklist, and no "have to"'s.  So that's what I did.  Ironically enough, I was uber productive the first two hours.  Did crazy amounts of stuff, including cleaning our crazy gross living room that was so cluttered really, a nomadic tribe could have been camping in there and I don't think that we would have known.  All that was done before 9 am -because yes, sadly, I usually am up at 7 or so even on weekends (blasphemous I know).

After that I watched episode after episode of "American Dreams" that I own on DVD, pausing only long enough to shower.  Then I watched a movie,  and my watched I mean it was on while I napped intermittently.  I was so immensely proud of myself for not tackling a long to-do list.  Even the things I accomplished weren't things that I had planned on doing or wanted to get done, so those all felt like bonuses.  The nap was nice, the laziness superb.  About 3 pm I started going a little stir crazy from lack of something to do and from lack of companionship as the hubs was still away working on that sock tan.  Fortunately for me, he showed up before 3:30 or else my mental status may have declined rather rapidly.

I am such a "get it done" person and I place high expectations on myself.  Sometimes I just need a day (or even half of one) where the expectations are put on hold and I let things just be what they are.  That includes un-checked to-do lists and unmade phone calls and dirty clothes and cluttered rooms.  Sometimes you need a nap or an innane tv show (or 3 or 6 or 12) :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Most Annoying Facebook Statuses: My Top 7

We live in a social media world, where relationships aren’t “official” until they’re posted on facebook and we all (if we are honest enough to admit it) have edited a facebook status update 10 times to make it just witty enough.


As fun as FB can be, it is downright annoying sometimes.  And by FB, I mean the people on it.  Here is my list of the top 7 facebook posts that irritate the mess out of me.


1.  The “Junior threw up twice last night and I only got 4 hours of sleep!! Being a mother is the hardest job ever!” status.


Okay, motherhood is hard.  Vomit, body fluids, lack of sleep, taking an hour to get ready to go somewhere...we get it.  But please remember that “martyr” and “mother” are not synonymous.  Your job is hard, but not the hardest.  Men and women overseas fighting for our freedom away from their families have it harder than you. Missionaries risking their very lives to tell people about Jesus have it harder than you. School janitors that clean up puke and other mess on a daily basis have it harder than you.  

A complaint here or there is fine and normal. But oh geez, the women who complain all the ever lovin' time! With all the love I can say, get over yourself. Some people will never get to experience waking up with a sick child because they can’t have children, or aren’t married yet, or whatever, and your whining about being inconvenienced by this blessing God gave you makes some people want to smack you.  And if staying home with your baby and toddler are so hard that all you do is complain about it day in and day out via social media, go get a job, and take your kids to childcare.  


2.  The “life is so hard and all i want is to be valued for who iam not what i say and even though ive never held a job or done anything meaningful with my life i am full of emotion and your trying to help me be giving me advice makes me sad inside and i am a beautiful soul waiting for wind” comment.


This is the one often made by someone under the age of 21.  You read it three times before you understand it because it’s a run on sentence and evidently punctuation isn’t something we teach anymore.  Approximately nine words in this post will be misspelled.  (side note: Before my kids can have any social media account, Dave and I are going to give them a test to make sure they know the difference between “your”, and “you’re”.  It is not that hard).


Once you decipher the post and actually can make sense of it grammatically, you will then have to weed out the drama behind it.  Eventually (and by that I mean, “After the third post of this type, which more than likely will occur less than 36 minutes after the first"), you will hide this person from your feed because you just can’t take the drama and do not have the time while perusing FB at work to deal with their paragraph long nonsense.


3.  The  “I’m a Republican and the president is a Democrat and additionally, he is really satan incarnate and really, if everyone voted like I did, there would be no sin in the world.” status.


**Now, hear me say, I have many friends who are Republicans who I respect greatly, and I am not a Democrat.  So don’t read this as I am just an anti-Republican person.**


First of all, I hate when people complain about anything and do nothing to stop it.  If you think that America’s moral situation is in dire need, then get out there and do something.  Thinking that the way you vote is going to change the world is seriously naive.  Go do the thing.


Second, GOP agenda and the gospel are not the same thing.  Have your political beliefs and be passionate about them, but you better realize the difference between policy and agenda, and American life and what the Bible actually teaches.  Stop hating on the poor and how they steal your money and cheat the welfare system, yada, yada, yada.  “You have dishonored the poor man!” James said.  “Yes, but he chose to be uneducated and poor just like I chose before conception to be born into suburbia with parents who thought college was important and even paid for me to go!  Look what I did!”  (‘cause really, that is the very message you are conveying).


There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or educated.  There is a lot wrong with making a distinction in value between yourself and someone else because they are poor or aren’t as smart as you.


4.  Similarly, the “Congress has passed X law and it is against God’s will therefore the world is going to end and things are so bad; I studied the book of Revelation for a year and this is it!!  The Anti-Christ is near!” type of post.


For the love, people.


The world has been ending since it began.  Your fanatical “Go build a bunker and cling to your Bible lest the demon zombies devour your children” type of hysteria is unnecessary.  The early church thought that things were so bad that the second coming must be near.  Things are crappy because we live in a fallen world full of sin, not because of a certain political climate.  Read your Bible, do what it says, and stop freaking out.  Fear is a sin, you know.  God needs us to change the world, not hide from it.


5.  The “baby im so in luv with u cant belive its been a month since you and i ur lluv makes me a better person an i can do anything with u i guess what they say is tru that you shuld never give up hope” post.


Seriously girls, if your guy can’t put together a coherent sentence when he’s sober, you need to wake up and get a clue.  And if this is something he posted on some other girl’s wall last year, well, girls, don’t be whining when he cheats on you or that eternal flame of love dies out.  For real, don’t be stupid.  It is offensive to our gender.


6.  The “Well I didn’t see that one coming” or “Just had the best thing happen!” or “Cannot believe the news I just got” post.


I call this the worm post because really, this is bait.  It is written by someone who is more than likely filled with self loathing and who needs validation like an addict needs a fix.   This person thinks that they are giving off a cool vibe when really, (and I’m being honest here), they are completely sad. Don’t fish for inquiries or compliments people.  For the love, tell us what it is or don’t say anything at all.  No one likes a vague facebook post.


7.  The “Repost this or it means you don’t love Jesus” type of post.  

Really? Reposting something on facebook is not a measure of my love for Jesus, America, freedom, or how much I want cancer destroyed.  I mean really, don’t count on facebook for salvation or evangelism.  That is just ridiculous. These types of posts are more than likely dreamed up by someone who is in elementary school or who has a psychological problem.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Yum-a-liscious: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I have long loved zucchini bread, and had a few bags of frozen zucchini in my freezer that I wanted to use up before they got touched by freezer burn.  I found this amazing recipe on Pinterest and thought I would give it a whirl.  Turned out really good!  It wasn't so heavy on the chocolate chips to make it overly sweet (I mean really, zucchini bread is sweet enough on its own).  The chocolate chips were the perfect addition.



Here is the recipe:


  • 3/4 cup(s) low-fat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup(s) canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 2 cup(s) (about 2 small) shredded zucchini
  • 2 cup(s) white whole-wheat flour (see Note)
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 cup(s) chocolate chips

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in zucchini. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and chocolate chips to the dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  3. Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. 

** I used regular all purpose flour instead of the white whole-wheat, but really, any flour preference would be ok I think.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ever wonder

I was listening to "One Song at a Time" by Jamie Grace this morning (side note: I love her; she is so cute and crazy talented) and the first line says "The sun came out just for me today", which is a lovely lyric but it got me thinking about things like that.  Is it fair to say that God gave a sunny morning just for me?  Or rain if that's what I prayed for?  And then I started thinking, "What if more than one person in an area prayed for sunshine, or didn't but needed it anyways?  Say, a woman having her wedding or a mom planning an outdoor party for her kid, or someone who just needs some sunshine to boost their mood and make them a little happy?"  How cool is it that through just one thing, like sunshine on a Saturday, God is able to answer multiple prayers and fulfill multiple needs at once?  I bet He loves that about His job.  I love how stinkin' big He is.





Monday, June 17, 2013

Best cookies ever

Excuses to bake make me happy.  Last week we had two birthdays at work, so I decided to bake to celebrate and share some sweet yumminess with those at work.


I found this fantastic recipe on Pinterest a while back and it has become my new go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  The secret is cornstarch; it keeps the cookies so soft and chewy.  They remind me of these little goodies,

which I used to beg my mom all the time to get but rarely was indulged.  They are sooooo good!  Go find an excuse to bake some, and enjoy!

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.

4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.  Makes approximately 3 dozen.  Try not to eat them all.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Color me Rad

Unpainted toenails make me feel naked.  And as I exist solely in open-toed shoes once the weather turns warm, I am constantly painting my toes this time of year.

I have a small stash of nail polish that I use to get by.  Is it just me or is the price of nail polish completely insane?  I love all the Essie colors and I know it's good quality but the thought of having to work nearly a whole hour at my job to afford a bottle of nail polish just strikes me as a bit ridiculous.  In all honesty, I need to get rid of half of my stash because it's old or is a horrible color.  I've gotten to where I am mixing colors to give myself more options.  This week I mixed an orange I had with a really pale pink, and got this lovely color:


Kindof a corally-salmon color.  Take that expensive nail polish!  I will create a crazy palette from the less than stellar collection I own, and keep that $8 for myself.  So there.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Crack is the new cleavage

That title cracks me up.  My college roomie Amanda used to say that all the time.  A, fond memories!

Anywho, to the topic of crack, meaning, the object of my latest addiction.  I give you this:

(dealer link)

Have you had these yet?  I kept seeing the commercials and in a moment of weakness decided to buy a bag.  Now I have a full blown addiction to this tasty treats, a cycle of depravity that started in the chip aisle at Kroger.  Oh my, they are so good.  It's like chips at Chili's.  In a bag.  That you can take with you.

All.

The.

Time.

Add to that my jar or mango salsa from Target and sweet goodness, lunch is gonna be a good time this week...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This is why I love summer

Finally, the weather around here has gotten itself together and it finally feels like summer.  One of the perks of my hubs is that when I married him, I got a jeep wrangler along with him.  And oh man, there is nothing like a summer drive in the jeep with the top down!

We packed a cooler of food Sunday and headed out with really only a vague idea of where we were headed.  We ended up on the Foothills Parkway where we eventually stopped and ate lunch on the side of the road.
*Side note:  One of my favorite things about summer is the food, and hello, summer tomatoes are so darn good I can hardly stand it.  None of those wimpy barely red things from winter, thank you very much.  The tomato on my sandwich totally made the sandwich what it was.  Who knew tomatoes held such power?



After that, we meandered through the Dragon (one of the twistiest roads in existence I think) stopping when we came around a curve and there was a motorcyle on the ground and no rider; it's eerie when you come across that.  People die on the Dragon every year.  We turned around and went back and someone else had already stopped and was down the mountain helping the rider up who was thrown.  Luckily, he was OK but man, it got our hearts pumping!  Hubs was concerned he was going to have to do CPR on somebody.

Anywho, we drove to the end of the Dragon and went on to Fontana Dam. a place hubs has never been and that I haven't been to since I was a kid.  It was so pretty and a gorgeous day to be going somewhere like that.



This is what happens when I ask my husband to take a picture of us; he is a nerd.

View of the Lake.  The Appalachian Trail goes right across the top of the dam.

View of the dam.  It was really cool reading about the history of the dam and how integral it was to WWII.

This is the hubs' "man stance."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Security Blanket

My friend recently posted this from the Dear Jesus devotional she's reading:

"Real security rests in Me alone; not in Me plus favorable circumstances."

Boom.  Truth slapped right across the forehead with that one.

I have had a pretty stressful week; lots of intense moments and I'm dealing with some time constraints that are very real and gosh, things just have not been as smooth as I would want them.  And just when I think I'm gone with one hurdle, here comes another.

I tried really hard to trust God through it all.  As in Tuesday all I did was keep praying "God help me believe, help me believe, help me believe" over and over and over.  Because I'll admit that I did not trust Him.  Or, maybe I did trust Him, but I just didn't like the circumstances and wanted him to change them for me.  I think that's a more accurate statement.  I knew he would be there for me; I just wanted him to be there for me while at the same time cleaning up the mess of life a little bit.

Is that a bad thing to want?

I wish I didn't freak out and panic so much.  I am a control freak so having things happen that are outside my control that I then have to deal with, really rattles me.  Because let's admit it, a lot of times unfavorable things happen that we juts can't abandon.  We have to take the tangled mess and unravel it.  We can't quit our jobs because they're stressful or quit relationships when things get messy.  We still have responsibilities and obligations that don't go away because of life's mess; they are still very much there and very much a bigger stress tangled than what they were before.

That was my week this week.  Dealing with tangled mess and wishing that God would just make it easy and pave a way.  I've cried multiple times in the bathroom at work this week.  I mean, it was not pretty.  Just a flat out, "I have reached my limit of how much stress I can handle" type of thing.  Sometimes God moving pieces in place happens just in the nick of time. (Darn-it!).  He's been trying to show me this week that my security is in Him and not in things going well.  I have lived long enough to discern the difference, but I guess not long enough to still not want them both at the same time.

And I think to myself, "I need to try harder."  And really, that's not the answer.  I just need to act on what I know, throw the full weight of my tangled mess, stressed out self at him, and let him surround both me and the mess.  God is big enough to cover everything.  He's good at untangling messes.  Even better at showing me that those messes, a lot of times, don't really matter.

At the end of the day, when all other things fall apart, God is still the same.  The one and only thing after weeks like this one that I can still count on.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dear Cadbury Mini Eggs



Oh sweet little Easter candy,

I am so excited that I found you on clearance after Easter at Target.  That 70% off sign blazing above you was like a beacon of light in the dead of night, calling me to you.  I loaded bag after bag of you in my cart, happy that with so many of you on the shelves I could take a good load and not feel greedy, as there were plenty of you left on the shelf for others to discover.  I took you home, dumped you in the snack bin, and slowly enjoyed your goodness.

I knew that eventually there would be an end to your goodness, and alas, we have reached that point.  Why did you not spontaneously multiply while I wasn't looking so that there were more of you?  I appreciate your constant presence these past few months, and how your rich chocolatey goodness has soothed many a stressful or hormone filled day.  While my blood sugar and waistline have been eager for your removal, your absence from the candy bin will be noticed and mourned in my heart.

I hope that we can meet again next spring, post Easter, in the clearance bin once more.

Affectionately yours,

Amanda

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Birds of the air

Our back porch is quite the bird haven.  Last spring we had 5 different nests made.  This spring we only had two.  The last set we thought only had one baby bird.  Then we saw another, and then eventually we saw three.  Turns out, there were four little birdies in there.  The hubs snuck quietly out and stood on our little step stool to take this pic of them one afternoon; I love that we were able to get all 4 in the picture!



They were so fun to watch!  As they got bigger they started flapping their wings and testing them out.  We were hoping we would be able to watch them fly off (we got to see that from one of our nests last year and it was so cool!), but alas, they all flew off while we were both at work one day.

I never loved birds growing up, but man, I have fallen in love with them over the past couple years as I've gotten to watch their little lives start.  Every time I see one now, it makes me think of Jesus' words in Matthew 6.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

I really love how the Message version words it:

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

"Careless in the care of God"; don't you just love that??  How often we forget that we are to rest in Him; that He has everything taken care of and will provide.  Life is never promised to be easy, but He promises to care for us.  He knew every one of those little birdies that lived on my porch this spring; he knew which worm their mama would take back to the nest. How silly of me that I think sometimes that He doesn't know what's going on in my life, or worry that He won't provide.  Oh, that He would help me to live free and unfettered as the birds of the air, not weighed down with worry, but free in trust and faith in Him!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Back to normal

Ya'll, this week is going to be hard.  It's been over two weeks since I worked a full work week.  Oh vacation, you have spoiled me!

We had a lovely road trip over Memorial Day weekend.  Great weather, good friends and food and conversation. I forget sometimes how much I love good conversation with people!  And we had a lot of it on our trip!  It was a nice, refreshing trip.

Then last week I was only at work for two days before I left for Atlanta to go to a Beth Moore event with my friend Ashley.  Oh my, Beth brought the word this past weekend!  Lots of good truth and God did a lot of stirring in my heart.  I'm excited to see what will come of these stirrings and visions He is giving me.  I haven't seen Ashley since my wedding three years ago so it was so nice to visit and catch up and encourage one another.  I'm so thankful that God has led me to the friends I have; I do not know where I would be without them in my life.  I've learned the value over recent years of quality over quantity when it comes to friendship.  I don't have a lot of close friends, but those that I have are invaluable to me.  I'd rather have that handful than heaps and bounds of lesser friends.

And now, we are starting a new week, jam packed with things.  It's going to be a busy summer for us, and a busy week this week for me.  I'm learning though that busy weeks are normal, and craziness is just another word for life.  I'm trying hard not to get so overwhelmed at things, but to take it all in stride, relying not on my own ability but on Jesus to make it through.  If I don't have a desperate reliance on Him every day, well, then something is wrong with what I'm doing.  Craziness dealt with while leaning full weight on Christ is completely doable.  So, this week will be good if only I can remember not to try to stand on my own two feet, but to rest myself fully in him instead.  Here's to life!