Wednesday, March 23, 2011

my new hobby

So I have a new hobby in life... didn't plan on picking it up, but some friends gave me a paint-by-number for Christmas and once I started it, I found out that I am thoroughly enjoying it! It's perfect to enjoy during this season of life that I am in.

It's one of those things where you get started and you just want to keep going because you want to make this picture come alive! Now that I'm starting to put multiple colors in a section, it is starting to look cool.

Never knew this type of thing was out there, so thanks Leslie G. and family for introducing me to it! I'll try to remember to post the final product. :-)

In other news... I enjoy watching Food Network and have actually learned a lot of cooking terms and ideas from the show. For example, twice this week now I've made something that didn't quite taste right, so I thought to myself, "How can I sweeten this up?" or "What can I thicken this with?" and using some of my knowledge from Food Network, I feel like I did a pretty good job of turning something icky tasting into something decent. Not bad at all. :-)

Just little updates. Hope all is well in your life.


Monday, March 14, 2011

seasons of life

This morning, before heading outside to my car from the building I was in, I turned to the lady next to me and said, "I'm excited for the day when we won't have to brace ourselves before going outside into the cold weather."

She quickly agreed. We are only a week or so away from the official first day of spring. The snow will take a lot longer to disappear, but spring is around the corner. And you know what? That knowledge that spring is coming gets many people (including me!) through what often can be a long, cold winter. The picture of warm weather and sun shining onto green grass keeps us going when we are up to our knees in that white, and often brown, mush we like to call snow.

I realized this morning that same hope of the next season is what has been getting me through the difficulties I've had over the past few years. Hope that tomorrow will come and tomorrow might be better, but even more than that, the hope that in one, two, five, ten years, I'll look back and say, "Remember the day that happened? It was horrible, but look at all the good that came out of it and look where I am today."

I don't know how long seasons last, but I know that a day will come where a better season starts and life will look completely different. Two examples: I remember the week my brother, Brian, passed away, I kept thinking, "The day will come when I'll be a year or two passed this and I won't hurt this much." That day has come. I still miss him a lot, but life has gotten a little easier, even though we miss Brian on regular basis. I fully believe that the day will come at some point in the future when I'll hold a newborn baby of Erik and mine in my hands and we'll say, "Our firstborn son is in heaven; this is our second born and we're excited to raise him/her." That's what keeps me going through difficult days.

Life is filled with seasons and just like Australia's winter comes at a different time than Minnesota's winter, people go through seasons at different times. Sometimes it's the people in the middle of "spring" who are there to remind the people in the middle of "winter" that good things lie ahead for them.

That's why people are so important. We all provide different perspectives. Some perspectives are tainted by the season people are currently in, so we have to give people grace for that. But we also need to learn from everyone around us.

Seasons happen.

Ecclesiastes 3 says:

 1 To everything there is a season,

      A time for every purpose under heaven:
       2 A time to be born,
         And a time to die;
         A time to plant,
        And a time to pluck what is planted;
       3 A time to kill,
        And a time to heal;
       A time to break down,
       And a time to build up;
       4 A time to weep,
      And a time to laugh;
      A time to mourn,
     And a time to dance;      ...

The chapter continues along this line of thought... then verse 11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."

That's the God I serve. A God who takes the season we are in and finds good in it... He takes the snow of life and brings you a mountain to ski down. He takes the open lakes and brings you a fishing pole. He takes the mud of spring and brings you a dirt bike. He's a God who also takes you through each season to the next one.

Seasons are a good, God-thing. Something beautiful is either buried or on the surface of each one. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jesus has been where we are

So I've always been a bit baffled by what the Bible says in Hebrews 4:15.

"For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning."

I've read this and thought, Well, yeah, but Jesus never had to choose between the TV and the Bible.... He has no idea of the ups and downs I go through as a girl.... He never had the pressures of a cell phone interrupting His Bible reading....

I'd come up with a ton of different reasons why this didn't make sense that Jesus had been tempted as we were because he didn't face some of the specific scenarios we face in today's culture. Don't get me wrong - I believed it must be true because it was the Bible. I just didn't get it.

Well, I've been thinking about this a lot recently and it is making more sense. Jesus wasn't tempted with the exact situations that you and I face, but he was tempted with the same feelings, thoughts, and deceptions that the devil throws in the face of people living in any age. (As Erik pointed out to me earlier today, the devil doesn't have too many tricks up his sleeve!)

In fact, we all face the exact same stuff as each other. Guilt. Condemnation. Fear. Rejection. Jealousy. Just as Jesus was faced with these feelings and thoughts, we are faced with these feelings and thoughts, even though our circumstances vary. Someone may feel guilty for disobeying their parents. Another person may feel guilty for cheating on their taxes. Another person may feel guilty for forgetting to say goodbye to someone on the phone. But they all feel guilty, and all of them need to learn how to properly deal with (aka get rid of!) those feelings of guilt.

Jesus may have been tempted to feel guilty that he couldn't take care of his mother as much as some might have wanted him to. He may have been tempted to feel guilty that he didn't take over the carpentry business. Who knows? But I bet that He had moments where thoughts of guilt came. The difference between him and us is that He didn't let himself become guilty. He didn't accept guilt to be a part of His life. He dealt with it differently.

The biggest thing the devil wants to do is make you feel like you are alone and no one knows what you are going through. Yes, you are correct that no one has a life exactly like yours, but you are incorrect in thinking you are alone. In reality, we're all in this thing called "life" together and we all face complications in life and thoughts of incompetency or guilt or whatever it is we deal with. We all have a stumbling point; my stumbling point is different from yours - but I guarantee someone else gets tripped up in the same way I do just as Jesus at one point dealt with feelings I'm dealing with.

Second Corinthians 10:3-4 says: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds...."

Like I said earlier, the enemy doesn't have many tricks up his sleeve. He lies, steals, and kills (John 10:10). That's it. He deceives us into thinking we should be condemned or feel rejected or be jealous. In reality, God has made a way for us to be completely free from all of that junk the enemy throws our way. Amazing. Jesus was perfect, but became sin for us that we could become perfect - or righteous - in Him.

Hopefully that makes sense. It's a work in progress and a whole lot more could be said... but it's a start.

God is with you in whatever journey you are on right now. And somehow, someway, Jesus can relate to what you are going through. He knows how hard (or easy!) it is to face what you are facing. He's been there and defeated the enemy so you can walk through this and defeat the enemy today. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

our second anniversary

Yesterday was our second anniversary. Erik and I had a wonderful time celebrating! Since we just had a night out to eat celebrating us for Valentine's Day, we thought it would be fun to stay home and make a restaurant style meal since we both enjoy baking and cooking.

When we were dating, Erik surprised me at home by making a ribeye steak meal with mashed potatoes, some type of veggie, a roll... the full steak dinner, but homemade. Candlelight and everything. We loved it so much we did it again last night with a few changes.

I don't have pics of Erik grilling, but he took a little grill (one he uses for camping) and grilled cauliflower, asparagus, and ribeye steak to perfection. So delicious. Inside the house, I made this recipe:

 The potatoes are super crispy on the outside and super smushy on the inside. It takes a while in a 500 degree oven, but definitely worth it! With the juice we had as a beverage, the full meal looked like this...

For dessert, we decided to replicate the molten chocolate cake you see at Chili's (and you can get something similar at a lot of other restaurants as well)....Thanks to Food Network magazine we had the recipe.

What our version looked like unbaked (waiting for the potatoes to come out of the oven)...


Erik needed to test the batter to make sure it tasted okay. (Okay, I did too; I just didn't take any pictures as evidence!) Tuck wanted some too.

 Here's the close to finished product

And the final thing.... 

The whole meal was very good. We enjoyed it all very much and complimented ourselves plenty. ;-) In the middle of making the dessert, we watched Despicable Me, a cartoon that came out last summer, and enjoyed that. All in all, a wonderful way to enjoy our two years together. 

Here's to many more years with my honey!!! :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the power of praise

One of the easiest things that happens when you're working through something difficult in life is that you get overwhelmed by the bad in the situation. Or, as I referred to it in a previous post, it's like when  you are sliding down a waterslide and the water splashes up into your face at the very end. You close your eyes to keep the water from getting in. Once you're off the slide, you come up out of the water and blink your way back into reality.

That's what happens during difficult times. You get overwhelmed. And today I remembered the phrase "praise stills the enemy."

It comes from Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouths of babes and unweaned infants You have established strength because of Your foes, that You might silence the enemy and the avenger." Also Matthew 21:16 "And they said to Him, Do You hear what these are saying? And Jesus replied to them, Yes; have you never read, Out of the mouths of babes and unweaned infants You have made (provided) perfect praise?"

Strength comes when you praise. This morning when I started to praise, it reminded me of how big God is and brought a certain joy to me because it caused me to stop thinking about the problems around me.

When I taught in the junior high ministry at my church, I used the example that if you put your Bible in front of your face, that's all you can see. If I hold my Bible out at arm's length, I can the Bible plus everything around it. The closer it is to me, the more my vision is filled with it.

The same is true in life. Praise causes you to bring God into closer view and causes the other things in your life to pale in comparison.

Oh and what exactly is praise? I like to define it as "making God big." When you praise Him, you make much of the power and might that He has... and as you do that, you remind yourself that He's bigger than whatever you are facing.

If you're going through a difficult situation, try praising God. I guarantee it will help.

Friday, March 4, 2011

crying is okay

If you're going through a difficult time, crying is okay.

I sometimes remind myself of this when I find myself needing to cry at the most random times. I remember everything I've been through, have a good cry, sometimes find someone to cry with so I'm not allowing myself to wallow in sadness, and then I move on.

I obviously don't know a lot about what other people do when they are on their own, but I do know that for me sometimes crying feels wrong or unnecessary or "do I really need to cry again?" I know that's not true, but those thoughts have come. I'm sure if I've felt those types of emotions, others have too. And I've decided (and I know it to be fact) that crying is okay. It doesn't mean you're "not doing good" and it might not even mean you're having a bad day. It just means you're taking time to remember whatever you've lost or whatever you've been hurt by. So let yourself cry if you're facing difficulty or loss or hurt. It's okay.

Do remember though that you can't cry forever. Every time I cry I make sure it doesn't become an hours-long pity party. I cry, recognize my sadness and spend moments reflecting on my loss, but then I look to something else - the good ahead, the fact that it will somehow be okay - something that will help me remember life is living now, not in the past.

The last part of Psalm 30:5 says, "weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Your crying can and should end for that moment. You'll cry again another time remembering whatever you're going through. Let yourself have those moments, and then pick yourself up again and move on.

Hopefully that makes sense what I'm trying to say. There's a ditch on either side--stuffing it inside and never crying about anything is one ditch. The other ditch is crying all the time and living in a depressed state. Neither are healthy. But you can legitimately balance the two. Sometimes it takes work. Last night I had a good cry and I honestly felt like I could cry for hours I was so sad at the time (and I had an okay day, it just was triggered by something!), but after taking some time reflecting on and weeping for some of the losses I've experienced here on earth, I moved on... in this case, I think I went on to watch who made it through the wild card round of American Idol. :-) Yeah, TV isn't always the best alternative, but sometimes it's an easy way to distract yourself so you can move on. Other times just changing the topic of conversation works. Plenty of times Erik and I move on by telling silly stories or playing with Tucker. Listening to Christian music, reading your Bible... just moving on so we don't wallow.

Like I said, ditches exist when it comes to crying over what you've lost in life (because I think we've all lost something at some point), but a middle road also exists and I pray that God shows you how to walk that as you walk through whatever loss you face in life.

Psalm 30
 1 I will exalt you, Lord,
   for you lifted me out of the depths
   and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
   and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
   you spared me from going down to the pit.
 4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
   praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
   but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
   but rejoicing comes in the morning.
 6 When I felt secure, I said,
   “I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favored me,
   you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
   I was dismayed.
 8 To you, Lord, I called;
   to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
   if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
   Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
   Lord, be my help.”
 11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
   Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

dinner idea

Hey there!

Erik and I just wrapped up dinner. Tried a new recipe and really enjoyed it.

Cheeseburger Soup
If you look at the reviews, there are a lot of ways you can play with the recipe. I didn't have chicken broth, so I used beef broth. I also didn't add sour cream. It's a fun recipe though and tastes very good.

Have a wonderful night!