Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Announcement from the DMV

WARNING!!!! If you see a small lady--about 30 inches tall, no hair, but definitely wearing a flower headband, grinning ear to ear as she's driving down the road... Get out of her way! She is not old enough to drive, but she doesn't know that! See pictures of the fugitive below...

Please be careful out there on the roads today, folks. As you can tell from these mugshots, she is a little crazy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How He Loves Us

Today, I wanted to add a new song to my playlist. I've heard so many cool songs lately that are certainly worthy of joining the others, but I just couldn't bring myself to move the first song out of the way. I simply love the message of this first song, as it is the crux of our human desires, to be loved. Oh, how He loves us.

I read a devotional this morning further reminding me of this truth. The writer of the devotional, Gwen Smith, who is also a Christian music artist, wrote, "When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace." And that, my friends, is the Gospel in a nutshell. I was so intrigued by her statement, I read it several times, slowly and out loud, gleaning a bit more revelation each time. (I'm thinking, "Dang, that's good!")

The part about gaining traction for powerful, meaningful living particularly spoke to me. And now I'm going to expose my undeniable redneckness with this next analogy. When I think about traction (or lack thereof), I picture mud-slinging (in true redneck style, that I admittedly have been a part of once or twice in my life)... trucks with oversized tires, covered in mud, out of control and spinning their wheels, burning fuel but not really going anywhere in particular, burning hot and creating a smokey scene as the muddy water meets the engine.

Rather than just meditating on her words and my own redneck analogy, I began to think about how this idea of God's love giving us traction in life lines up with the scripture...

1. Without complete surrender of our lives to Jesus as Lord, we too are like spinning wheels, with no traction to truly move us forward in life. We may work really hard (or not) to be a good person, to do all the right things, but without His grace, we, like mud-slinging tires, toil in vain.

  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- Ephesians 2:8

  • Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

2. When we don't embrace, or perhaps even realize, the unconditional love Jesus has for us, we still find ourselves as spinning wheels, trying so hard to earn His love, or worse yet trying to find love and approval from everyone else.
  • "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

At first glance, you might not see how that verse, specifically speaking to women, is related to embracing God's love. Bear with me.

As a commonly loud and most of the time, outgoing person, I really felt like I was at a real disadvantage on the whole gentle and quiet thing. I looked in awe at other women who were reserved and physically quiet with gentle dispositions. Why couldn't I be that way too? It just seemed so out of character for me. Then, through encouragement from a friend and further study on the scripture, I learned that the (transliterated) word for quiet in this verse is shaan, meaning to be at ease or rest securely. What a relief to learn that God was speaking about gentleness and quietness as conditions of the heart rather than personality.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, "For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."- 1 Sam 16:7

During so many moments I have felt like a mouse on a wheel (or a mud-slingin' truck) exerting much energy to feel loved, fulfilled, worthy, and approved, all the while dealing with the same insecurities, the same obstacles, the same exhaustion. Jesus is saying to my noisy, restless spirit (not my voice), be quiet. Rest in me. Stop striving. I love you just the way you are. When we embrace the love of Christ for us, when we know, truly know, how much he adores us, our wheels will stop spinning; all striving can cease. There's nothing to prove, nothing to earn. In this, believing Christ's love for us, we move forward to powerful, meaningful, genuine, sincere, and grace-sustained lives. Oh how he loves us. Now that is something our spirits can rest in.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:16-19

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Keeping with the food theme...

Continuing to brave the world of unconventional foods, but healthy, whole foods, mind you, I've discovered a few more easy, yummy, and affordable recipes that I don't think you'll regret trying.

First things first, the dark chocolate cupcakes that I promised and that several of my friends are just sitting on the edge of their aprons waiting to recreate! ;-)

See, Grace Louise approves. Her first taste of chocolate! (But only a taste!)
Make these cupcakes. The link to the recipe is above. You won't be sorry!

Disregard the Indian-inspired sloppy joes... Not bad, but I wouldn't make those again. Do, however, enjoy the strange, but delicious Massaged Kale Salad! (The name is what hooked me!) Jimmy was a fan, and that is saying a lot! Kale is a veggie that most people have rarely tried. Cook it like collard greens, or better yet, enjoy it fresh in this nutrient-packed salad!
I got this recipe from Aarti, the newest addition to the Food Network. She's pretty, has a great accent, and wears flowers in her hair like Grace Louise. She must make good food!
Keeping with the food theme... here are some pics of my little eater

Hey! No laughing at the dinner table!

Frozen blueberries make for a messy, but effective teething soother.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

HEALTHY Banana Pineapple Muffins

I have been dying to share this recipe! Because I have an overactive sweet tooth (to say the least), I've been on a quest to create a repertoire of healthy or at least healthier desserts that I can enjoy and feel comfortable sharing with Grace Louise. (My ultimate goal is to incorporate crazy things like spinach and black beans into decadent brownies, but hold on sister, not so fast. Baby steps).

My first recipe was an Almond Honey Cookie which is super easy and yummy. Next was an absolutely amazingly delicious dark chocolate cupcake with a dark chocolate ganache. Hello?!?! (Recipe for that later). In between precious cups of moist chocolate goodness and this mouth-watering muffin, was a brownie recipe, as well as a chocolate muffin, neither of which were worth sharing.

So, on to the star of the show. Banana Pineapple Muffins. I get to post my own recipe, because I tweaked the original recipe so much that it resembles my own creation more than whatever unhealthy mess it was before...

2 mashed bananas
8 oz can of pineapple "tidbits" drained
3/4 cup sucanat (dehydrated cane juice. low glycemic. good stuff. check it out.)
1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Streusel Topping
2 tbl flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl cold butter
1 tbl brown sugar

Combine the flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in the butter until it turns to coarse pebbles.

Preheat oven to 350. Mash bananas and pineapple in a bowl and set aside. Combine wet ingredients, including sucanat and the mashed banana/pineapple mixture. Separately combine dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix with handheld mixer until batter comes together. Stir in chopped nuts. Pour batter into muffin tins filling completely (in order to get that cute muffin top). Sprinkle streusel on top and bake for 25 minutes.

Okay. I'm clearly no food photographer- or recipe writer for that matter. The only reason I'm sharing this is because these muffins are that darn good! My picture is telling on me, so I might as well come clean. My streusel was a total bomb. Apparently I'm not a good butter cutter. I ended up with more of a paste than pebbles and felt like I was soil testing (ribbon method for all you aggie's out there) rather than streuseling. That only means one thing. These muffins have the potential to be even better than I experienced. Holy Cow.

Grace Louise LOVES to help in the kitchen. Or bang measuring cups together, whatever! (If this picture looks poorly staged, it is! No one is ever around to take pictures of us together!!!)

GO Gators!

The fall is here and our Saturdays are planned for the rest of the year!...Only question is whether it will be a noon, 3 o'clock, or night game. We watched the first Gator game this weekend with Jimmy's family. Here are some pics of Grace Louise in her Gator garb...

And this is how Grace Louise felt about how our boys played. You better tighten up, she says.

A few cute pics from the week:

Grace Louise sporting the new fall fashion line, including hot pants and her cloth diaper booty!

Kisses for Grandaddy!