Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Time

Christmas time really is the most wonderful time of the year! Family, Friends, Gifts and the birth of Jesus Christ!

I heard someone say this and it made me happy: "We give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift...Christ, his son!" I know that is very juvenile, but it's true. I LOVE giving gifts! I believe so far I have participated in 5 gift exchanges and I love every minute of them! We had a white elephant gift exchange at both the Arlington and Bartlett campuses of Christ Church and had the most random gifts given! A box of two separate flip flops and some shoe laces ...batteries...a ham loaf or some kind of meat...ha! They were fun!

For our Thursday Night Bible Study, we did a tacky sweater party and ornament exchange. Hilarious!!!

I also visited with my friends from college at Mississippi College. We had our traditional Margarita's Mexican Restaurant lunch and then headed over to our friend Kristin's for our gift exchange!

And, last but not least, the most recent event for celebrating the Christmas season was last night! We took the Bartlett high school girls to see the "Zoo Lights" at the Memphis Zoo! Fun company! Cold, cooooold weather!

That's a whole lot of events and fun happenings summed up in a very short blog. More to come after the holidays!

Here is the written word on the birth of Christ (from the Message translation). Merry Christmas!!!!

The Birth of Jesus
Matthew 1:18 until end of Chapter 2

18-19The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn't know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
20-23While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—'God saves'—because he will save his people from their sins." This would bring the prophet's embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for "God is with us").
24-25Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Matthew 2

Scholars from the East
1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod's kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him."
3-4When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"
5-6They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel."
7-8Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship."
9-10Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
11They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
12In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
13After the scholars were gone, God's angel showed up again in Joseph's dream and commanded, "Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him."
14-15Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod's death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: "I called my son out of Egypt."
16-18Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he'd gotten from the scholars.) That's when Jeremiah's sermon was fulfilled:

A sound was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much lament.
Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone,
dead and buried.
19-20Later, when Herod died, God's angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: "Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead."
21-23Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. When he heard, though, that Archelaus had succeeded his father, Herod, as king in Judea, he was afraid to go there. But then Joseph was directed in a dream to go to the hills of Galilee. On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was a fulfillment of the prophetic words, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reading it Differently

Grant lead a discussion on the Beatitudes a while back but I like to read over this every once in a while. . Really eye opening. We concluded by Grant reading the beatitudes to us in a way that helped put the verses into focus for me.

The Beatitudes
Matthew 5: 2-11

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Reading it Differently:

Truly content are the people who realize they are nothing without God because they will be saved.
Truly happy are the people who agonize over their sin because God will restore them.
Content are the gentle ones who recognize Gods holiness for they are inheriting God's kingdom.
Happy are those who desire nothing else than to be like God because only they will truly be satisfied in this world.
Truly happy are those who see the weakness of others and act because God will act to meet their needs too.
Content are those undivided in their hearts and minds, who seek God's righteousness before all else for they will experience God constantly.
Truly happy are those in harmony with God's desire for righteousness in the world for they are in God's family.
Truly content and very, very happy for those beaten up, abused, slandered, gossiped about, and mistreated for me because all I have is theirs and they aren't alone.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Not About Me.

Wake up call!

I don't think I have ever heard the Lord trying to tell me something as much as he has been this week. I mean that in all seriousness.

Most of you know that I have this newfound hobby of reading that I love. I know, I know, I am 25 and should have been reading for like 20 years already, but I recently have started to really have a passion for it. My problem is that I start SEVERAL books at one time and I get confused.

I KNOW that I am searching for the Lord to reveal himself to me more in my life...or for me to just notice him more. I think it's mostly the last part. Because of that I have been trying to learn more and reading is a great option for me. So, I will be referencing several different books here. One is "Forgotten God" that I talked a little bit about in a past post by Francis Chan, one is my "study" book I am doing called "The Living Room Series: No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter (I started this a LONG time ago and didn't follow through with it) and lastly is the book that our Thursday night bible study group is going over called "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" by John Piper.

So, Francis Chan in Forgotten God opens the book by giving us the definition of "EXEgesis" and "EISEgesis" (emphasis mine here throughout all of this. It helps me to distinguish the two if I capitalize the first parts...what can I say? It's how my brain works.)

EXEgisis= an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out from there

EISEgesis= to import a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.

Dumbed down the words mean this (dumbed down is how I like it-these are Francis Chan's definitions...I wish I could claim them as my own, ha...): EXEgisis is when you start with the text and draw out its meaning. EISEgesis is when you start with an idea or conviction, then search for verses in the Bible to prove your point.

I am going to do a lot of "quoting" from the books and I don't mean to copyright anything...just putting that out there in case someone tries to sue me. Kind of joking and kind of not. Don't sue me :)

Francis Chan says: "The bottom line is that we can easily pursue just about any lifestyle we desire, then find Scriptures to show everyone it's all right to live that way. But what would it look like to live EXEgetically? If we were to start with Scripture and allow it to dictate our actions, how would we live?"

In my opinion, the Bible should be read from an EXEgisis standpoint. Grant and I were talking the other night about how you can pretty much take anything out of context to make yourself feel good or feel like your way of thinking is right. Especially the Bible. I don't know if I was TAUGHT this way or if I just learned this on my own, but forEVER up until now, I would go through something in my life and look in the back of the Bible and read all of the verses that applied to that "topic" but I don't think that's how the Bible should be read. I am NOT saying that you shouldn't search the Bible in your time of need. I am just saying to remember that the verses are in context. It's like looking at a owner's manual for a car and expecting it to tell you how to brush your teeth. That's not it's purpose. That Bible isn't about us. It's about Jesus Christ. Period. I will explain a little more to elaborate my point in
a bit.

There is more to Francis Chan's book and I highly recommend it. I think I am done referencing his book.

My whole point of writing this is not to convict anyone, it's to say that I am learning more and more that my life is not about me. Here I go explaining a little more.
So, like I said before, in our Thursday night bible study we are reading John Piper's book "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" and Grant leads that Bible study and my eyes were opened a TON last night. Here's some of the things the book and our group discussed...I might go off my original topic but hang in there...I will reign it back in.

John Piper introduces the book talking about how people can see but not see ("Seeing they do not see"). Matthew 13:13 says: "That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don't really see. They hear, but they don't really listen or understand". We talked in our group about how often we, even as Christians, "see but don't really see". Meaning-how often do I go about my day without seeing God and how he's working. ALL THE TIME! It's pitiful...I am talking straight to myself here. John Piper says: "When we see with our spiritual eyes, we see the truth and beauty and value of Jesus Christ for what they really are....But not everyone see truth and beauty and infinite value. Some see only myth. Some see foolishness. Some see offense. "Seeing they do not see. It is as though a child should look at a Michelangelo and prefer a comic strip."

This verse helps a little more to understand the whole "Seeing they do not see" concept in my mind: 2 Corinthians 4:4: "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News".

So, in our bible study, we are learning what it means to "savor" Jesus Christ. Hence the title of the book. Grant put it this way and it helped my simple mind understand better. It's like one of those word things on the ACT test we took in high school but it works:

Joy is to happiness as savoring is to emotion. This goes back to a lesson Grant taught on joy and happiness. The difference between joy and happiness is that joy is what we should have all of the time that comes from the Lord and our peace in our salvation and happiness is based on your emotions at that particular time. I can still have joy in Christ even though my family member just passed away but I am not happy. Savoring Jesus is something that we should live out in life and not just be something fleeting like emotion.

Chapter 1 starts out with this caption and Grant filled in the rest: "The Ultimate Aim of Jesus Christ" is to reveal the glory of God to us. This is where it brought me back to my thinking of "this isn't all about me".

"The universe was made to show the glory of God, and we were made to see it and savor it. Nothing less will do." John Piper goes on to talk about how the universe points to the fact that we as humans are infinitely small in the grand scheme of things and how it is further declared by our universe. "The heavens declare the glory of God"...yes, I have sang that in songs and heard that said all the time, but if you think about it, LITERALLY- THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD!!! Again, THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD! Literally. I guess I should stop screaming it on paper and explain what John Piper is saying. He's saying-look at our universe and the earth in relation to that. Have you ever seen those posters in elementary school that line up all of the planets and you see that although we live on this earth and it is MASSIVE to us-we are one of the smallest in the universe. I like what J.P. (I am abbreviating John Piper here) says: "The reason for "wasting" so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our Maker, not us." NOT US.

Isaiah 40:26 says: "Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing." Wow. Louie Giglio has a talk called "Indescribable" that also talks about the universe and this same topic. Here's a link to it if you want to watch it: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=17849695

WELL, so, if it's not about me-what is it about... J.P. says: "The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this." WE WERE MADE FOR THIS. Grant said last night that we have a function. A cell phone isn't used as a door stop. If it was, it wouldn't work very well and visa versa. We have a function. We are made to know and enjoy the glory of God!

Grant and our discussion group elaborated on what J.P. said about how our lives have gotten so disordered. One person used the example of when her and her husband get into a fight about petty things (I could even put mine and Grant's name in there...it happens to everyone) one of them will stop and ask the other "How is your relationship with God right now?" and even though it makes that person so angry in that second-it's true. Things start to fall apart when you are a Christian but are not walking with the Lord. I am a first hand witness to that. I am also the first one to say that being a Christian doesn't mean your life is perfect...hard times are GUARANTEED in this fallen world. Grant used the word "splintered" last night and that stuck with me. Our world gets splintered when things get disorderly...when God is not the focus...the Number 1 focus.

J.P.'s words: " The point is this: We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self."

To sum this all up from J.P.'s book he says: "The Christian Gospel is about "the glory of Christ," not about me. And when it is-in some measure-about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of him forever." It's still all about God even when you are used to exalt his name. Wow.

You didn't think you were getting a bible study, did you? Neither did I. This is just what's going on in my life and felt it should be shared. Not for my glory, but God's.

I had more to add but this is so super long and I am sorry. What the "more" I wanted to add it worthy of it, though so hang in there...

I wanted to share with you some options to "give back" this Christmas. I will just list them and go to make this short.

TOMS Shoes: http://www.tomsshoes.com/default.asp -With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One.

Grant found this one called "Harvest of Hope": Give a gift that changes lives. http://www.harvestofhope.org/ -All around the world, people are in need, but you can help! Give the gift of Hope. There is a catalog on here that you can look through and give gifts on behalf of others or just to help.

Thanks for hangin' in there through this long message :) OH, and I know I didn't talk about the study book "No Other Gods"...I will save that for another post.

Monday, November 30, 2009

50 Things I am Thankful For

It started out with 10 things I was thankful for, but then I kept going.

Here are a few pictures as well of people I am thankful for. If you aren't on here, it's not because I am not thankful of you :)

1. That chicken is only 3 weight watcher points
2. A husband who makes me laugh daily.
3. That our queen size bed holds two adults, a 45 pound
Puggle purse dog,and a human size
Great Dane without breaking.
4. Hulu.com for my shows I miss often & Reba reruns.
5. Friends with the same sense of humor as me.

6. Twilight books and movies.
7. A wonderful church!
8. Youth group students who are shorter than me…
at least for a little while
9. A husband who takes pictures with me without complaining.
10. Edamame & pickles. Not together. I could make a
whole list of foods I am thankful for but I am
trying to keep that limited.
11. Facebook to keep in touch with old friends. Sad, but true.
12. Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant in Clinton.
13. Camp Electric. What? What?
14. Annual “pretty friends” and Memphis girl Christmas parties.
15. Emails and hand written notes.
16. My recent travels: Gulf Shores, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Cincinnati,
Atlanta, Chicago…all within a matter of 3 months.
17. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has been
where I have been and
experienced the pain that I have experienced.
18. Karen Kingsbury books
19. Twilight. (it’s worth repeating)
20. Grant Thomas Nixon. The love of my life…one in the same
incase you are wondering.
21. My Dad, Mom, in-laws, sisters, and brothers,
cousins, grandparents…
basically FAMILY!
22. Thursday Night Bible Study at the Butler’s.
23. Olive Garden. When I am not on WW.
24. Reverb.
25. Ethan Allen for the friend I found there. That’s pretty much it.
26. An all girl Fantasy Football league.
27. Funny Friends.
28. Crazy people with mullets.
29. Design.
30. Target.
31. Orange Crush. You know what imma sayin’!
32. Calendars to keep me organized.
33. A husband who is a preacher. Keeps me on my toes.
34. My sister who loves animals as much as me, has a GREAT
sense of style, and married a minister, too.
Not planned. Well, by us...God knew.
35. A sister who will make me money one day and shares
some aspects of my personality. People say we look
alike. I take that as a compliment :)
36. My hairstylist. #1 in Tipton Co.!!!
37. My home. And, my home away from homes-
The Morella’s, Nixon’s,
& practically, The Butler’s.
38. Spin class.
39. Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider, sugar-free syrup, no whip.
Last food item. Promise.
40. Any opportunity to serve. Which can pretty much be daily if
I keep my eyes open.
41. Girls bible study taught by Jessica N.!
42. ANY Christmas song. NSYNC is top on that list.
Now, where is my CD?!
43. Sisters who fought like cats and dogs through high school
but who I can call friends now.
44. A Mom who has a servant’s heart. And, the fact that
she shares my love of shopping doesn’t hurt either.
45. A Dad who makes me call him when I get home every
time I leave his house.
Daddy’s girl for life!
46. Ok. One more: Chick-fil-A Cookies ‘N Cream
milkshake that I haven’t
had in MONTHS.
47. Christmas trees and candles. Not right next to each other.
48. 5K’s. It’s a love/hate relationship.
49. Animals. Except insects.
50. Salvation. It’s worth repeating.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On the Road Again

My last trip for a few weeks was my trip to Cincinnati, OH with my job, Camp Electric, for Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention! I love going to the conventions and telling people about camp! So fun! And, Kristina and I got to meet Shane & Shane. Their concert was great! And, their new CD is sooo good! Besides "Psalms" this is prob my favorite from them.
Kristina went with me on this trip and did a GREAT job and we had a little fun after booth hours, too! We ate at some GREAT places and even met up with Sabrina and her boyfriend, David on their way back from a concert!
I really like putting pictures on my blog because it makes it more entertaining to me, so there are a lot on this one :) So, Kristina and I went to a few of the "Big Rooms" at the convention and one that we went to had Donald Miller speaking. Grant and I went to hear him in LA for the same convention and in Cincinnati he did a different talk and it was great! Well, it was different enough that I still enjoyed it. His new book is below and its about "what he learned editing his own life". Here were a few notes I got from his talk.
  • We sit down with God's story (The Word) so often and think "What's in it for me?"
  • A character in a book who is perfect makes it a lot harder to write a good story. I thought this point was good and he also talked a little more about how to actually write a story or a movie. And, he explained that there is this point in every movie/story with a climax or an "Act 3". That's where the story goes good and the conflict is resolved. It's where you know everything is going to be ok. And, as Christians, our Act 3 doesn't happen until the Wedding Feast of the Lamb when we die. So, here in our lifetime we will ALWAYS have pain and struggles, but the reassurance that we have is that our Act 3 is coming! Jesus will save us in the end, but we have to make it through our time here in this world...we are smack dab in the middle of Act 2! The only way a character gets better is through PAIN. This is true in life too. In order for our "story" to be great in the end we have to endure some pain...a lot...
  • A character has to sacrifice of themselves for the benefit of other people for the story to be meaningful (Jesus on the cross is a good example...)
  • As Christians, success isn't what we should want in life, it should be to have a meaningful life. We should want more in life, but it matters WHAT we want.
  • Learn the secret to being content.
I picked up this next book by Francis Chan called Forgotten God. I have about a million books to read, but I will eventually get to this one and let you know how it is. I am hoping to make it to hear Francis Chan when I make my next trip with Camp Electric to the next National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta in a few weeks.
And, last, but not least-Carrie Underwood has a new CD out! I love pretty much every song, but "Undo It" is GREAT! Really upbeat! It has NOTHING to do with my life, but it's still fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winter Jackets, Bathing Suits & Books!

5 nights in my own bed in what will end up being 17 days total... all of my travel seems to come in bulk. I won't be surprised if I have some horrible cold here soon because of all of the climate changes I am going through! All of the trips have been amazing, but it's super hard when Grant can't come along :(

I went with my Mom to visit Sabrina at UT for her Fall Break. Here is a picture of us on a over night trip in Gatlinburg...this is somewhere close to the Donut Friar. We were freezing our tails off!

This next picture is in Gulf Shores with
The Nixon's/McCaskill's...no longer freezing.

My sister, Kristina and I will be leaving this coming Wednesday to complete the 17 days I have been in and out of town to head to Cincinnati, Ohio for a National Youth Workers Convention with Youth Specialties. With my job (www.campelectric.com), I typically go on three Youth Specialties trips between the months of September, October, and November and since this is one of our slower times at work, I thought I would take advantage of a few short trips...they all just happen to fall back to back!

With having these different trips to relax (the first two were "relaxing" trips-the Cincinnati trip is work). I have done a TON of reading which I just love! I finished the last three books in the "Firstborn" Series by Karen Kingsbury. I have pretty much just read her books in the past six months (with a four book distraction from "Twilight"...totally worth it!) and love them! I finished the Redemption series, moved on to the Firstborn Series and I am now on the Sunrise Series-all featuring the same Baxter family. I don't know what I will do when I am done! I kind of want to slow down! If you don't read Karen Kingsbury-I highly recommend her.

One thing I ran across yesterday as I was finishing "Forever" from the "Firstborn Series" were the "Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage" (they fit well with the story, but I can't say more than that or I may ruin some things.) Even though these books are fiction, I have really learned a lot and wanted to share these "secrets". (These are from Karen Kingsbury so I am not intending to steal her ideas).

Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage
by Karen Kingsbury
From "Forever"-Firstborn Series

  1. God has you here to serve one another. Love acted out is serving.
  2. Women need respect and nurturing. Love your wife so she knows you'd lay your life down for her. Continue to date her and admire her. Share a hobby-find something you can do to have fun together.
  3. Laugh often.
  4. Be patient. Love crumbles quickly under the weight of unmet expectations.
  5. Spend more time trying to fix yourself than your spouse.
  6. Keep short accounts. The Bible says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are angry." Make it a habit to forgive.
  7. Determine up front that divorce is not an option.
  8. Learn about love languages. Not all people show love or receive it the same way. You want a back rub and your spouse wants a clean kitchen. The love languages are fairly simple: acts of service, time, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. Learn them. Love is better received when it's in the language that person speaks.
  9. Words of affirmation are a love language for all men.
  10. Men are born to be leaders. He cannot lead unless she gives him the confidence to do so. If you love your husband, build him up. Confident men do not seek love outside the home.
Let me know if you find encouragement in this as much as I did! Until next time....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Memphis Heart Walk

Memphis Heart Walk-The American Heart Association

So, my sister-in-law approached me with this walk-the Memphis Heart Walk for the American Heart Association. Little did I know that once I stopped and thought about it, I had several family members who were affected with heart problems. For starters, my Mom's father, Grandpa McMurray passed away from a heart attack at the early age of 45. My grandpa Morella had several heart surgeries in his lifetime and finally, my father-in-law, Nick Nixon, is a Survivor! So, once I thought of all that, there was no way I could not have done this walk.

We ended up having a good mix of people join Amanda's team and come out! The Nixon's, my Dad, Alan, and my close friend, Allison Butler and her baby, Hudson!

We completed the 5K and Hudson slept the whole way! How nice would it have been to be pushed in a stroller for the walk :)

The walk was success after a failed attempt at going on a hayride and picking pumpkins the night before. That's another story for another post.

I love this time of the year and I love being outside. This Saturday is a race at Shelby Farms called the "Eye Opener 5K: Please Don't Drive Drowsy". One of my sister's close guy friends was killed by someone who was driving while drowsy/sleepy. If you are interested, go to: http://www.eyeopener5k.vpweb.com/

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Los Angeles

Wellll, I am not really good at updating this as much as I should. I will work on that!

Grant and I just got back from Los Angeles, CA for the NYWC- National Youth Workers Convention representing my awesome job, Camp Electric. The convention has a exhibitor area where you buy a space and set up your booth. It's been great to spread the word about a camp focused on the Lord. My boss graciously allowed Grant to come along with me on the trip so we have both got to talk to people about CE as well as getting to hear from speakers like Donald Miller, Perry Noble, and listen to the David Crowder Band. Awesome!

This is a picture of Grant and I outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on our first day there.

Our first day here we set up our booth and then headed to explore LA. We made it to Rodeo Drive, stopped in Louis Vitton, had some delicious fat free yogurt, and just enjoyed a new place! While we were here we ran into a great college friend, Mike Barbera so it's been fun to catch up with him and the ministry he is involved in.

The hotel we stayed in had a Spanish-Mexican theme. I loved it. Grant...
not so much :) He prefers the straight-lined, white, modern hotels.
I love the ones with character!

Donald Miller spoke and encouraged the youth workers to work to be involved in writing the story to your student's lives. He taught that without hardship in life there is no story. Everyone goes through hardship and it's about how you break away from that that determines how your story is written. Obviously he said it a lot better than I did. HIs new book is called "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". He also wrote "Blue Like Jazz". About his new book, he described it as more of a narrative than a religious based book.

One of my favorite things I discovered was "FroYo" as our friends told us it
was called-Frozen Yogurt. Only 2 Weight Watcher points! With fruit-3 points! Awesome!
While we were at the conference at our Camp Electric booth our "neighboring" booth were some guys representing a movie coming out called "I-Heart Movement" (http://www.i-heart.org/) that comes out this November (the 2nd or 3rd).

So, after that little advertisement I will get back to what I was saying... So, these guys-Ben, Matt, Pat, and Diego were our neighbors for the weekend and they invited us to their church in Newport Beach. I believe the church was the Newport Beach Church. I could and am probably wrong about that but Grant and I went to visit Sunday night and it was AMAZING! The pastors came over from Australia (husband and wife pastor the church). The church is kind of a branch of Hillsong. From the moment Grant and I walked in we were extremely impressed. Everyone was super nice and welcoming. Seriously. Everyone. From the moment we walked up to the door there was someone there welcoming us and directing us. When Grant and I stood around awkwardly someone would come up and talk to us about anything. We later found out that they have everything planned down to a "T". They have people who's responsibility is to talk to people who aren't talking to anyone. They have a women's ministry that the wife pastor leads up and the girls involved in the ministry all wore the same t-shirts (trendy, I may add). They had people responsible for getting water to the speaker...just planned down to every last step. And, the worship was amazing. The songs started and people rose from their seats to go to the front to worship. Very high energy.

The church was primarily people our age (20's-30's) and they brought in a speaker Judah Smith (I now follow him on Twitter: judahsmith) who is a pastor in Seattle, WA (http://thecity.org) who was very captivating, spoke the word boldly and was hilarious.

We were just very, very impressed with this church! It was a great experience!

Well, that's enough of my advertising for now. I just can't help but share the awesome things that I learn about :) I hope this makes up for the several days of posts I missed. Does anyone read this? Ha!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recipes for Non-Veggie eaters

I have a real problem with veggies.

All my adult/college-ish life I have wanted so badly to like salads. They are decorative and appealing, but the taste is just so bland. Now, I know it's the toppings that make the difference, but you can end up adding the same amount of calories and fat to a salad as you would buying Mc D's burger...so why put myself through the torture :) I admit, they really are pretty. I keep waiting for my taste buds to catch up with my desire to like veggies...but in 25 years, the taste buds are stubborn and haven't changed, atleast in this aspect.

So, anytime I want to start a diet or work to become healthier this issue makes it much harder! I really like Weight Watchers because it is a "lifestyle" like they like to say. I have always succeeded on Weight Watchers (I am currently back on the plan and it's hard but slowly working).

So, for any of you who are like me out there and don't like veggies but don't want to just give in to eating only carbs, here are some good recipes my WW instructor sent me. She sent me over 500 pages of recipes all with the WW point value. If you want the recipes, I can email you. I printed them out and had them bound for convenience. It's the best recipe book that fits what I enjoy that I have found. Maybe now I might actually start cooking!

Last night I made "Parmesan Chicken Cutlets". Grant seemed to like this recipe as well. What is hard about trying to diet is when you have a husband (or kids for those of you that do) who aren't dieting and you need to make good food choices for them as well. But, this book of recipes has some great choices!

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets (I served with corn which was 1 point per 1/2 cup and Grant had a salad on top of that)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/8 tsp paprika
4 (4 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400. In a ziplock bag, combine cheese, bread crumbs and paprika. Shake well. Pour crumb mixture onto a plate. Dip each chicken piece into the crumb mixture, turning to coat all sides. (I thawed out the chicken for about 5 minutes in the microwave before doing this...mine were frozen.) Arrange chicken on a non-stick baking sheet (or spray the pan with cooking spray). Bake until chicken is cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
4 servings, 4 points each

Light Chex Mix (I also made this last night as a snack for the week or however long it lasts...since it calls for a lot of different cereals, I got the generic brands of them all)
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups cherrios
3 cups pretzels
Butter cooking spray
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp butter flavored sprinkles
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or more)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp onion powder (or more)

In 15"x 10" x 1" baking pan, combine cereals & pretzels (I actually combined all of these in a large bowl first to mix up b/c it's hard to mix on a pan then I poured on baking pan). Lightly coat with a butter cooking spray (0 WW points, btw), drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Combine remaining ingredients & sprinkle over cereal mix. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Cool. Store in airtight containers.

12 1-cup servings, 2 points each (and I have just been scooping 1/2 cup into baggies and writing a 2 for 2 points on the bag in permanent marker). A good amount of snack for only 2 points.

Here is what I have planned for the next two weeks:

Honey Mustard Chicken- 7 points with rice (ranges from 3-4 points for the rice I picked up)

3/4 cup light honey mustard dressing
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp dill weed, freshly chopped (I just bought it in the seasoning)
1 medium scallion, finely sliced (or finely chopped onion or chopped green onion...I will be leaving this option out of my recipe, see above note on hating veggies, ha!)
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (four 4 oz halves)

Preheat over to 425. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine honey mustard dressing, salt, pepper, dill and scallions. Remove 1/3 cup of the mixture and set it aside. Put corn flake crumbs into a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken breasts into the honey mustard mixtures and then into the corn flake crumbs. Place each breast into the baking pan. Bake uncovered until the chicken is golden and no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes. Drizzle remaining honey mustard dressing mixture over the chicken breasts and serve.

For the remaining recipes, let me know and I will post the directions. I just didn't want this post to be forever long...considering I don't know if this even gets read by people!

Sweet & Spicy Dump Chicken- 6.5 points per serving (thought about cooking with rice: 3-4 points and corn-1 pt)

Grilled chicken on George Foreman with Tony's seasoning (3 points) with Easy Mac & Cheese (a recipe-not from a box)=4 points per serving for Mac & Cheese

Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Shells: 2 shells=8 points; a salad for Grant would go good with this recipe...I may do skinny breadsticks (not sure about the point value at this time).

Deluxe Meatloaf: 6 points per serving; salad for Grant and skinny breadsticks for both of us.

Teriyaki Chicken: 5 points per serving, will probably serve with rice for 3-4 additional points

Pimento Cheese: 3 points for whole batch (may use this for lunches); Bread is additional points. I have whole wheat bread for 1 point per slice and another option is honey whole wheat bread for 2 points a slice.

Potato Brunch Casserole: 3 points per serving

French Toast Casserole: 2 points per serving. Grant will LOVE this! You have to do night before b/c it requires bread to soak in pan. I will probably serve with fruit.

Hope this encourages the non-veggie eaters like me that we DO have hope out there!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Ocoee!

Grant planned a trip with our youth group to The Ocoee over Labor day trip and it was GREAT! I haven't been since I went as a 9th and 10th grade intern with Greg Hauss at Bellevue and it was still as awesome as I remembered it! I think a good instructor makes all the difference. Our instructor or guide, Chris Phillips, asked us if we wanted a "mild" or "wild" (white water rafting) trip and everything in me said "MILD" but the rest of the boat overcame my small voice so our trip was WILD :)

Let me preface this by saying that my Mom and Dad went white water rafting about 10 years ago and she had a little incident. Mom was born (well, not born with it, but close enough) with a buck tooth that I was OH so lucky to inherit and when she was white water rafting, her oar (or more specifically, the t-grip...I feel like a pro white water rafter using my terminology!) hit her smack in the mouth and left her two front teeth (one being her buck tooth or "snaggle tooth" as Grant and I like to refer to mine) dangling. So, I was KIND of hoping for that same thing to happen to my snaggle tooth...much to my dismay...it's still there safe and sound :)

On one of the first rapid was a Class 4 called "Double Tuck". This one was where our instructor tried to "sink" us...obviously knowing what he was doing. He warned us by saying: "If you do not cling to your seat buddy you WILL fall in." So, I was sitting next to a youth, Matt Moore, and I did what I was told then look to see Grant dangling out of the boat along with another youth, Kayla. I start frantically screaming for Landon (Grant's seat buddy) to "GRAB GRANT, LANDON!!! GRAB GRANT!!!) I don't know if I thought Grant was on his death bed, but you would have thought my screaming was saying just that! And, Landon, being the hero he was saved Grant from his doom! Kayla's seat buddy, Molly, also rescued her. So, our whole raft had successfully stayed aboard for the whole "wild ride".

Another really awesome part of the ride was going down the last rapid "Hell's Hole" backward. It was cool to see the river like that but also kinda freaky because....we were going BACKWARD.

We had a group of 39 awesome adults and students and we just loved it! We luckily brought an amazing cook who made us this OUTSTANDING BBQ pork on the first night and then grilled out hamburgers and hotdogs the second night...pretty sweet for "roughing it in cabins".

I actually thoroughly enjoyed the bus rides as well...I started the Twilight series...but that will be for another post :)

This is one of my favorite snapshots of the white water trip...please notice Chris, our Bartlett campus associate pastor screaming for his life. He says he was hamming it up for the camera, but I don't believe it :)

I plan on sharing some GREAT Weight Watcher recipes soon! I will keep you posted.

Friday, September 4, 2009

So, I guess I am now a "Blogger"???

I am joining the Blogger world!

I have been extremely hesitant to because my thinking has always been that I don't want to ramble on about mindless topics and expect others to read them. I have always been under the impression that I have to be super smart and say smart things all the time.

So, I am going to try my best to be interesting, even if not "super smart".

A little about me (I am assuming that people reading this already know me, but here we go anyway):

I am married to a Reverend! Ha! Just happened (didn't just get married, but Grant just became Rev Run as Drew calls him). Super proud of him! It's really a neat thing. Not that titles mean anything, but if you knew his heart, you would be excited for what the future holds.

We have several "kiddos". Two being Reilly (Grant spells his name differently, but I picked him out) who is a Puggle- a mix between a pug and a beagle. He was suppose to be my "purse dog" but unfortunately he now weighs closer to 45 pounds so he's not even a backpack dog...maybe a suitcase dog is more like it. Then, there is Tony Almeida, our Great Dane. I have a new found fondness of Great Danes since we have had Tony. We will probably always have a Great Dane...we might have to go through a few of them b/c they have short life spans, but they are the sweetest, lovable dogs ever! One of my favorite characteristics is that they like to lean on those who they love. So, you can be standing there outside with Tony and if you aren't careful, he could come over and knock you slightly off balance b/c he leans and puts all of his 120 pounds into you. And, Reilly is great too...just crazy! If you know him, you understand that I use the word "crazy" very loosely.

The other kids in our lives I like to say are our children are the youth group at Christ Church. Grant is the youth minister for Christ Church and that includes the Arlington and Bartlett campus. I just love them. It's great getting to hang out and get to know all of the students. You create different bonds with them and we have come to just LOVE them.

Our lives right now are pretty crazy! As of now there are pretty much only 3 nights a week that we don't have scheduled events on a regular basis but I honestly enjoy it. We start our week off on a Sunday with Reverb (our youth program) at the Bartlett campus. Monday I have girls bible study at Bartlett for high school girls taught by Jessica Nabakowski (love it!), Tuesday is now my new free night, Wednesday is Reverb for the Arlington campus, Thursday Grant leads a bible study at Blake and Allison Butler's house at 7:00 p.m. for college and past coeds (one of my favorite times of the week...you are welcome! We have a few superb cooks that bring us food on a regular basis- Sara Hillis, Laura Epting, and E Gullett) and then Fridays & Saturdays are usually free unless there are events planned. And, that's just my schedule, but I love it! Keeps me busy!

I also work for Camp Electric (www.campelectric.com) which I am sure you will hear tons about later! I am truly blessed with my job situation!

I am going to test out how to add a picture with a pic of Grant and I! More to come later! I may even post again later today :)