Monday, April 30, 2012

this stage is beautiful

Every stage of life has beauty. For me, part of the beauty is here:

We put him in this a little early and he loves it. You can almost tell he's thinking... this is how I walk, right?

As I grew up, I thought the best stages of life were when you learned how to drive... then turn 18... then 21... then 25... get married... have a baby. Now I realize that every stage has beauty.

For Brayden, the "stages" are coming super fast! But instead of dwelling on how fast time goes, I'm enjoying life as it comes.

That's all for now. The boys and I are going for a walk. :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

coloring inside - and out - of the lines

Last night, I went on another "adventure" in the kitchen. I wanted to make a quick bread for Erik to have in the morning for breakfast (and me to eat the sweet goodness of it...). I have a great mix-and-match quick bread recipe from Food Network, which I had most of the ingredients for. I could have made carrot bread, but every time I've made it, Erik hasn't loved it. I wanted him to love it, so I decided to switch it up. I used all the kitchen knowledge I've acquired through Food Network magazine and programming and I branched out in my interpretation of the recipe. Instead of carrots or zucchini or something that the recipe called for, I used up the leftover strawberries in my fridge. I thought... Strawberry bread. Why not?

I couldn't find the nutmeg, so I substituted Chinese five spice, something I've heard chefs on the Food Network use a lot. I don't really know what's in there, but it seemed like something sweeter rather than savory. I also substituted a vanilla yogurt Erik usually has for breakfast in place of the plain yogurt and vanilla extract; in my head, that worked as a substitution. Lastly, I used lime juice and zest in place of all the citrus juice/zest the recipe called for. I considered it a strawberry lime quick bread.

I was so excited to see if my substitutions worked. This time, though, I did something different then every other time I've made this recipe. I was patient. I followed the final directions to a "t." I cooked the bread for the full 55 minutes. I cooled it in the pan for 30 minutes (something I rarely do!). I then put the frosting on it and waited 15 minutes before I finally dug in (again, I never do that!). And yes, that was over an hour and a half of waiting after putting it in the oven! Ack!

It was worth it though. Letting everything cool as they specified set the frosting in place, let it sink in a little, and gave the bread a much more "put together" taste. I could actually cut it and have the frosting stay on top. Previously, I would be so anxious, I would put the frosting on hot bread and eat it right away. It was always a mess as it melted everywhere. This time I did it right and it was worth it.

So that made me think... sometimes, it's appropriate to think outside the box. Be creative. Take liberties. Explore. Figure out if you really can make strawberry bread instead of the normal zucchini bread.

Other times, it's much better to stay inside the lines. I had to let the bread cool and then let the frosting set on the bread. Otherwise, it wouldn't have turned out right. Those rules needed to be followed.

Somehow, my little brain, translates that to a life lesson. Take, for example, dating. I thought I initially was going to marry the first man I dated. I didn't. I had to allow myself to think outside my "box" and be okay with getting to know a few different guys before meeting Erik. On the other hand, I was determined to do it right, stay inside the lines, and obey God when it comes to purity before marriage. Both Erik and I knew our marriage would be much messier if we crossed that line before we said "I do."

And how about job selection? I grew up wanting to be a teacher, but in high school, the Lord pushed me outside of my box and told me to study writing, something I never considered until that point. Now, I find that my writing job is a perfect fit for me!

It's often hard to find that balance between where to explore in life and where to just obey the rules... perhaps the line is, don't be afraid to color outside the lines of your own box or someone else's box for you. We don't always know what is perfect for us, so it's good to be creative and use our God-given imagination.

On the other hand, God does know what's best for each of us, and it's vital that we don't color outside the lines of the box God has provided - the foundation of the Bible. Following the Bible's principles of living will keep your strawberry lime bread coming out perfect every time.


(If I hadn't been so excited to eat the bread, I might have remembered to take a picture of it to post! Oh well!)

Here's a link to the quick bread recipe in case you ever want to try it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

forgive and forget, part 2

So this "forgive and forget" thing is a whole lot harder than I'd like it to be. It seems as though we as humans have an innate desire to criticize, compare, and convince ourselves that we are right and the other person is wrong. Once we've convinced ourselves of how wrong they are, we like to replay those thoughts in our head over and over so we can feel better about ourselves or remember exactly how wrong they were.

This morning I read Ephesians 3:20: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us...."

God is able to turn around every situation into something glorious, above-and-beyond our wildest dreams. That's amazing. That's the kind of God I serve. Sometimes I wish He wouldn't let situations get so bleak or frustrating before changing things, but then how much more glory does he receive when it restores someone from their death bed then restoring someone from a common cold?

I remind myself over and over that every person on this earth is here for reason and God has an amazing plan for them just as He has an amazing plan for me. If that person's plan and mine don't mesh like I think they should, then I really should move on and let them complete their plan God's way and I'll complete God's plan in my life.

I sometimes wonder what to do when I see something wrong in someone's life that I feel like I could help fix by pointing out the problem. Well, first, I have to make sure I'm following Matthew 7, which says don't judge the speck in someone else's eye when you have a log in your own. I have to get my attitude right about the situation. Second, Matthew 18 says if our brother sins against us, we should go to him and talk it over. Maybe, if the opportunity arises, it is something you should talk to them about, as long as you don't lambast for their stupidity and provide, instead, constructive criticism in love.

(I'm not sure that I want "talking to them" to be the answer. I'd much rather talk to them in my head and imagine a perfect conversation where they take my every critique to heart and become a better person because I offered my sage advice.)

So I don't have any massively huge conclusions here. Just wanted to say that "Forgive and forget" isn't easy, but somehow God creates beautiful plans out the ugly messes we find ourselves in.