Tuesday, October 30, 2012

allume {life in the light} : recap 2012

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I’m back from Allume this week, and slowly recovering from my six flights in four days. I don’t fly often, so when I do, I try to catch as many planes as I can per trip. ;) The conference was amazing- I learned so much, but I think my favorite thing about this blogging conference was that it’s primary purpose was to encourage us to blog for the glory of God. :)

The first night, we had a RooMag meetup. I had the chance to visit most of the other contributors, and we all Skyped with RooMag’s creator Candace Cameron Bure. It was such a blast!

roomagpicture/links from RooMag:

Top Row L to R: Darlene, Angela, LeAnn, Rachel, Glynnis, Mandy
Bottom Row L to R: Stacy, Sheila, Darlene, Clare, Ruth, Courtney

I learned so much it was hard to narrow down my favorite moments, but I managed to find a few of my favorites. {ahem}. I told you a little about the conference last Friday, but now that I’m back, here are six things I loved about my trip to Allume:

1. the friends

I loved hugging the necks of my sweet blogging friends, and I loved making new friends too. Oh, it was fun!

Here’s my fitness sister, Clare, aka the co-editor of RooMag. I wished we lived in the same city. I have a feeling we’d have some fun workouts! ;)

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Here’s Darlene, from Time-Warp wife {she has amazing homemaking printables over there}:

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Here’s Angela from Good Morning Girls. I love her soft-spoken sweet spirit. She’s precious! I can’t wait to hang with her again- we only live 1.5 hours apart! Yay!

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Here’s Crystal from Money Saving Mom. We were told we looked just alike- isn’t that fun? I think we should be sisters. For real. She’s adorable, and so sweet:

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And here’s Brittany from the Cha Cha Chronicles {love this fellow WIWWer, and I love her bubble necklace too! hehe}:

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And I enjoyed hanging out with Jesenia too- she has such a deep love for God and a great testimony of what He’s done in her life. She’s launching a blog soon, so follow her on twitter to find out when:

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2. the traveling

I love traveling- and traveling alone is much different than with your husband or your friend. I can’t wait to tell you some of the stories. I continue to be blown away by what God does. Before my second airplane took off on the way there, I had the chance to share the entire Gospel. What.is.that?? Nothing but God. Nothing. He is incredible, and He works in EVERYTHING, including my seating arrangements. Incredible, I tell you.

Before I left the airport, I met Leigh from Hopeful Leigh and we ate lunch at McDonald’s together. I love how He orchestrates everything. :)

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My first three flights were so close, I didn’t have a chance for Starbucks. But I definitely enjoyed my cup on the way home. Smile 

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3. fellowship

We had a great time fellowshipping- it was fun to sit at different tables and make a new set of friends each meal!

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4. the teaching

I loved all the great thoughts shared at Allume. I will share my favorite quotes with you soon- I’m still processing all the information! They lined up an amazing group of speakers!

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from Tricia Goyer’s session on Blogging with Kids

5. the food {and the coffee}

I never thought I would be able to say that conference food was some of the best food I’ve ever been served, but it was. They had everything. Seriously. They had buffet style meals, so I was full {a feat in itself!} and it was good. :D It was so good, in fact, I came home with an extra layer or two on my thighs to prove it. ;)

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Yes, that is an enormous bowl of guacamole. Reason #32 why my pants are tight right now. ha!

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6. coming home

I wasn’t too homesick, but I missed my husband and kiddos like crazy. I was so, so glad to come home to my sweet family, a clean house, and these:

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Now it’s back to life, and I’m trying to be more Mary than Martha this week, and choose the better things. :) It’s easy for me to want to jump right back in, but I’m fighting the temptation to do too much right now.

What’s important? What really matters? Loving God and loving people.

Not getting everything done that I’m behind on.

Right? {remind me, please! ha!}

How do you transition back to home life after a big trip?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

the call to experience the gospel for yourself

These Gala apples are amazing:

They are tangy, a bit earthy even; soft, yet crisp. Moist and delicate, the sweetness of these apples lingers on your tongue after each bite. Nothing else tastes quite like these apples. They are incredibly good.

….

Can you imagine tasting one of those apples right now?

If so, why do you think that is?

You can accurately imagine- you understand exactly what I’m describing- because you’ve experienced those things before.

Imagine if I told you about the apple, but you had never had one before. You have never tasted something tangy, or something sweet. I could describe the apple to you in hundreds of different ways, but you wouldn’t really understand what I’m talking about until you take that first bite. You know what I mean?

Experience allows us to understand descriptions. We frame the meanings of words given to us by what we have experienced in real life. Your body has to have tasted “tangy” for me to truly be able to communicate what tangy means to you. Once you’ve experienced “tangy”, you know what it means.

Much like the apples, you have to truly experience what the Gospel means in order to fully understand it. My words can’t give you the true experience of the Gospel.

We can define it, we can explain it- we even walked through it step by step for 15 weeks. But do our hearts truly understand what the “gospel” means?

We can talk about it for days, but the power of the Gospel doesn’t truly come through words alone. Explaining it doesn’t give you the experience. The true power of the Gospel is found in the very depths of our soul.

The truth of the Gospel is this: God the Father, in His infinite wisdom, created the world, sent His Son to die for the very people who sinned against Him. His mercy redeemed those whom He chose for the purpose of bringing glory and honor and praise to His name.

We exist for the glory of God. Not for our own sake, but for the name of God to be made great.

God is the center of our world- our lives- because He is God.

In our sinful rebellion, we left God behind and sought after ourselves and our own pleasures. Every single one of us. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. {see Romans 3:23}

Standing in horrific pride against the Creator of the UNIVERSE, we desired to make our own name great. We desired to serve ourselves in this time on the earth.

We rebelled against God, and we deserve to be separated from Him. For eternity. Who can stand before the very God of all, who is Holy, Just, and Truth, and demand that we deserve anything in light of what we’ve done? When that final day comes, could you possibly stand and say “God, why are you so unjust to send me away to be separated from you from eternity?”

Would you dare to demand that you deserve a second chance?

We cannot even stand on our feet without God willing it to happen. Who could say anything in response to Him?

Oh, we are so full of sin and pride.

But God still loved us.

Why?

Not because of any redeeming quality we had.

He loved us because He is merciful.

He created us, He wrote the plan of salvation before the foundation of the world, for His glory. Not for anything else.

If you feel a welling up of resistance in your chest to that statement, you are feeling the very thing we all need to be redeemed from: pride.

God is GLORY. God is HOLY. God is JUST.

He is the Alpha, and the Omega. The beginning and the end.

We are nothing but dust. We have nothing in light of Him.

And yet in the most incredible way, He lowered Himself to our status and came in human form to live as we do, so that we could be rescued from the very sin that condemned us to eternal separation from God.

Jesus came and fulfilled the laws of God, and sacrificed Himself- a spotless Lamb- and defeated the power of sin and death through His resurrection- so that we could be made new- so that we could be made righteous like Him. So that we could become His sons and daughters.

Do you see it? Do you understand?

You are desperately in need of Jesus. You have nothing to offer God. He is EVERYTHING.

God doesn’t need you to do anything for Him. You need Him.

The Holy Father has provided a way for you to fellowship with Him again. You could never be good enough or moral enough to get there on your own. No amount of singing His praise, of being good to others; no amount of following of the Bible, no amount of offering thanksgiving will ever bring you to salvation. You cannot offer God anything in exchange for His grace.

Matt Chandler says it so well in the Explicit Gospel: “If everything is God’s, you have nothing to give him that he doesn’t already own. This means that you cannot put him into your debt. And this means, alternately, that God owes no man anything. Our very existence has been gifted to us by his grace.”

You have nothing in comparison to His glory.

And yet He offers you everything.

Can you lose your pride, and admit that you are vile and desperate, and in need of a Savior?

That’s what you have to do to truly understand the Gospel.

You have been given a chance to be a child of the one true and living God.

Jesus gave up Himself, so that you could be a chosen one.

Friend, if you understand this, you cannot help but worship Him.

He is Glory, the one unchangeable, unshakeable,the undeniable God.

Do not reject Him. Don’t.

You have one chance in this life you’ve been given. You have one life to live.

You’ve been given the gift of redemption. You have been given a chance to be saved from the consequences of your pride and sin. A chance you don’t deserve in any way, shape, or form.

Will you accept the gift of salvation? Will you give your life to Christ?

The Gospel is the Good News. The news that God has redeemed you if you have faith in Him. If you confess with your mouth the Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Confess that the Lord is God, and you are not. Confess that you are broken and desperate, and in need of a Savior. Tell Him. Tell others. Believe that HE has risen from the dead and conquered death so that you might understand His power.

Nothing on this earth is more important than this.

No one- nothing- but Jesus can redeem you. He did it. For you. Because He loved you.

When you believe this is true, your heart is forever changed.

Your life will forever change. You will truly understand the Gospel, and you will worship Him- your heart will live for Him. And you won’t be able to explain it, but your heart will change in ways you could never change yourself.

You are a creature made to glorify the God who redeemed you. You can choose to glorify and serve God in this time on the earth, or you can choose to glorify and serve yourself here. But I have to warn you, if you choose yourself, you will not spend eternity with God. You can’t. You must have faith here and believe in Him on earth to receive the gift of salvation. One moment after death is too late. There are no do-overs.

Whom will you serve here?

No serving two masters. It’s you or Him.

Will you choose to be His?

And will you do it with all of you? Every single part of your life- He requires it, sweet friends.

Give it all back to Him. Nothing held back.

That is the power of the Gospel- the story of a merciful God giving life- to the dead.

A heart that once was as hard as stone- a heart that served itself- becomes transformed into a new creation. A heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh when it is filled with the power of the Spirit of God. He has done it in me, and I can tell you it’s unlike anything you’ve experienced on this side of Heaven.

There is no one- no author, no song, no experience in nature- nothing that speaks into my soul like His Spirit does. I can’t describe how powerful His presence is in my heart. There is no one- not one single thing on this earth that arouses my heart to worship like His Spirit. He is worthy. Oh, how He is worthy.

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty! He is great in power and in might, and there is no God in Heaven or earth besides Him.

Will you serve Him with your life?

Choose today.

Live for Him today.

Nothing else matters.

 

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Friday, October 26, 2012

food for the soul {allume blogging conference}

I’m at Allume this weekend, learning all about blogging for Jesus while soaking in fellowship with so many sweet sisters in Christ. It’s been refreshing so far- even though I’m tired from the trip, I’m loving every minute of it. Here are a few pictures from last night and today:

The lovely Jessica from Muthering Heights:

I love these quotes from her keynote speech:

And here are my sweet roomies:

Mary from Giving up On Perfect and Amanda from oh Amanda! They are awesome. Seriously fun girls! I can’t wait to get to know them more.

And here is my other sweet roomie Amy, from Permission to Peruse…she’s so adorable! I absolutely love her {check out her 31 days of wisdom too! It’s sooo good!}.

I’m excited to share more pictures and tell you some of the stories, but I couldn’t wait to share a least a few with you! Have a lovely weekend friends!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

thrifty thursday GW find: a cast iron dutch oven

{I’m blogging from Allume today- I’m thrilled to be here {and safely, no less!}, and so far it’s been so much fun. I left at 4:45 this morning and made it to Harrisburg, PA, at 12:50, so it’s already been quite a day! ;) I can’t wait to share all the details and introduce you to my roomies!}.

So it’s no secret that I love GW {Goodwill}. I also love kitchen tools of all kinds, and when the two collide, it’s always a happy, happy day. :D And, indeed, it was a very happy day when I found this gloriously blue Dutch oven at Goodwill, brand new in the box:

This is crazy, but I never thought I would be so happy with a pot! ;) When I made lasagna for my husband’s birthday dinner this week I sautéed onions in it, added the turkey to brown, and then added the sauce and simmered it for a few hours. We had leftover lasagna noodles and sauce, so I added the leftover noodles and cheese to the pan, and baked it like a casserole in the oven! It was so easy!

And if I’m studying my Dutch ovens correctly, a Le Creuset Dutch oven runs around $145 on Amazon, while the off-brand runs between $40-$60.

I scored mine new in the box at Goodwill for $9.99! :D I don’t remember what brand it is, but it works like a charm, and I saved at least $30!

I’m excited about it! Cast iron Dutch ovens are new to me- I’ve never had one before. Do you have any recipes you like to cook in them? What else are they good for? {I’m thinking I might want to use it often!} Do tell! :D

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

husband's birthday= favorite recipes of all time + a gift dilemma

Today is my sweet husband's 33rd birthday! :D I am so blessed to see another year with this man.

the man himself on his first day of being 33....it looks good on him! :)
I realized recently that God completely, tangibly blessed me by giving him to me as my husband. God knows me so well, that He gave me a man that would show me the exact kind of love I need on a daily basis. It's incredible. Seriously. 

Thank you, God for my husband! I am so grateful to live life with such an honorable, kind, strong, and loving man.

It's going to be fun to do things for him today- he does SO much for me all the time! I'm excited to have a few plans up my sleeve for his birthday too. :D

We have a little birthday tradition around here- the birthday person gets to pick whatever they want to eat for dinner. Homemade, out at a restaurant- anything goes!

Knowing that, Rob requested two of his very favorite things I make: lasagna, and cinnamon rolls. :D

I'm excited to make those- it's been forever since I've made either one. The last time I made cinnamon rolls was for Noah's birthday. I think it's hilarious that they would rather have cinnamon rolls than birthday cake! :D

So the plan for today is to shop and make those earlier in the day, head out to teach my class later in the day {good thing considering I'm going to be enjoying lots of cream cheese icing... ;), and then I'll just cook everything that's been prepped already in the evening.

I have a gift that I bought for him several weeks ago, and then last week he told me he hated the thing I bought him. Ahem.

Does that sort of thing happen to you too? ha! I'm not sure if I'll take it back or not, or just go ahead and give it to him and then see if he changes his mind. Goodness. You'd think I'd know the man better than that after being together for almost 13 years. At least it was something he's never had before! ;)

So the other thing I know for sure he likes is movies. Sometime this week we are definitely heading out to see a manly movie. Any suggestions on good, clean, manly movies that are out right now? :)

Movies, desserts, lasagna! There's more birthday calories goodness to come for our little family!

Oh, and if you're interested in some caloric goodness for yourself, here are the very best recipes on the planet for lasagna and cinnamon rolls. They are what I'll basically use tonight. I've adapted them for our tastes {turkey in lasagna, and a slightly different tripled icing recipe}, but they are fantastic without modifications!

So tell me, what should I do? Take back the hated present today or try to find another one? Or just give it to him and then let him return it and pick out something else? I'm just not sure! What would you do?



Monday, October 22, 2012

a birthday {week} I'll never forget

The last week has been incredibly full- in friends, in work, and in fun. :D I can't wait to share all the party details with you! {I have the best husband, friends, family, and mother-in-law ever! :D}

Here's a glimpse of what my living room looks like right now:


It was amazing. :D {and those are truffles hanging from the ceiling, by the way! crazy.}

So while I'm coming down off my sugar high from the last week of birthday celebrations, I thought I would share a few pictures from the last week!

We went rock climbing last weekend for half-price with a Groupon. My brother and his wife Cayse were in town celebrating their third anniversary, so we met in Grapevine to climb together. :D


Though we don't get to do it often because of the expense and distance, we love climbing with a passion. :D I think Rob was the most excited about the day...

 

I was a bit nervous since I hadn't done it in a couple of years, but I had even more fun than I did in the past! I even made it to the top! ;)


And the hubs did an amazing job climbing:


My brother joked I took the rainbow route, so of course I had to pick a rated one the next time around. On this wall, I only took the green ones {a 5.8}, and I almost made it to the top. :D The beginning of the route was the hardest- mostly pebbles. :D


After two hours, we were all toast. The picture doesn't tell you the whole story, but my fingers were raw and swollen: 

It was good that we worked so hard, because we enjoyed lots of yummy calorie-filled food over the weekend....

The hotel delivered this to our room for free: {love free cake!}


Then we went to Saltgrass Steakhouse where I enjoyed...


Chicken and bread. Yum. :D

The next day we went shopping a little too...

Can you guess what store front this is? It's one of my favorite stores I rarely shop at...


So it was mostly window shopping, but it was still fun. :) And I learned a lot {coming soon over on RooMag} from my trip... who would have thought to pair purple, blue, and orange like that?

My mom kept my kids for the weekend, so we picked them up on Monday. It was so, so good to get some quality time away with this guy:


He is really the best. I won't lie- he spoils me like crazy. :D 

It was most certainly a birthday I'll never forget! :D Now I'm trying to plan how to get through this week- we have another birthday, and I'm leaving for Allume on Thursday! :D More excitement to come!

Friday, October 19, 2012

30 things {part 2}

This has been a whirlwind of a week... it's been wonderful, hard, and busy all at the same time. :D

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes here and on Facebook! You guys are the best. I mean it!!

I joked that I was over the hill all week, and almost everyone older than 30 has assured me that 30 isn't there yet! I think I believe them now! ;)

I didn't get a chance to finish up my 30 random things list yesterday {see # 19}, so I thought I would share the rest of them today! :D

24. I love Rice Krispie treats. Like, I will eat the entire pan of them at one time if you let me. Forget about potato chips, no matter how hard I try, I can't eat just one. And I'm planning to make them for Elijah's birthday tomorrow, so pray for self-discipline for me okay? hehehee

25. I cut my hair off when I was 20 years old. It was fun and the husband liked it. :D Here I am on my 20th birthday with my little brother Josh:


26. I liked it a lot at first, and kept it short for about 1.5 years, then decided I never wanted to cut it that short again.

27. Speaking of brothers and getting older {ha!}, here we are 10 years later with our significant others: 

rock climbing happiness!

28. My favorite weird food growing up was Cool Ranch Doritos topped with hamburger-sliced pickles.  It sounds disgusting, but tasted really, really good to me. I know! It's a little gross. ;)

29. I didn't start drinking coffee until 2 years ago. I hated the stuff before. If my taste buds would have matured sooner, that year I had 4 kids 5 and under would've been a breeze. {wink}

30. I've decided to have fun this year and try 30 new things I've never tried before. I'll be blogging about it throughout the year {Lord-willing}! I'm excited to experiment with new foods, events, products, whatever! :D I can't wait to share them with you as they come along. I might just have to eat fried butter or something.... {ewww}. Or maybe even visit a new country {right, honey?}. ;)

I hope you have a lovely weekend! The birthday madness continues around here for one more week! :D

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30 things {part 1}

Today is my 30th birthday, so I thought it would be fun to tell you 30 random things about my life right now! {I always enjoy it when other bloggers do it, so it seemed like a good birthday thing to do! hahah!}

1. I am at Starbucks writing this post, enjoying my favorite birthday tradition- alone time with my Macbook and this:


2. I'm typing with only 9 fingers. I have an important tip for you: don't throw away your razor and then proceed to push down the trash as you take it out. You will slice off the top of your pinky finger, even if said razor was too dull to use on your legs {so silly...and so painful!}.

3. On the same note, don't ever try to catch a falling razor in the shower. You may have lightning fast reflexes, but your brain won't work as quickly as your muscles. Trust me. Again, very painful. Avoid this if you can. :/

4. Speaking of muscles...I've fallen in love with running again. After I started working out when I was 21, I decided one of my life long goals was to run a six minute mile. My first full mile in adulthood was somewhere around 14 minutes.

5. Last week, I ran the fastest and hardest I could on a curvy trail, and the little voice came over my iPod and told me, "one mile...time, 7 minutes, 0 seconds." I think I groaned so loud everyone on the trail wondered what was wrong with me! hahah! I just wanted to hear the number 6 before the seconds! I wonder if hearing 6 minutes will ever happen. Either way, I'm not done trying. :D

 6. Being 30 is definitely physically different than being 21. My knee hurts when I run these days. I can work out for hours in a group fitness setting, but 2 miles on the trail kills my knee. Go figure.

7. Another someday goal of mine is to hike the rest of the 11 mile Kalalau Trail in Kauai. We did several miles of it last year and turned around because it was getting dark {we started too late}. Our dream is to sleep on the most beautiful beach on the world:
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8. I love, love, love, Kauai. It's incredible. Quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth. We went there for 7 days in 2011, and I still can't believe God made such an awesome place, and I got to see it.

9. I sometimes dream of moving to Kauai, and I wonder if it's hedonistic to want to live somewhere so beautiful. Mountains, oceans, and beaches bring me to worship. Seriously, why does God even think about us? He is so, so big!! I would love to live somewhere and see all that beauty every single day.

10. I never thought I would be the outdoorsy type. Or that I would have four kids by the age of 26. But I love that they are both true now.

11. It's chaos sometimes {having four kids}, but it's so much fun too. They all brought me birthday cards this morning. They really do love me. And I love them more than they will ever probably know. :)

12. Speaking of loving more than one will ever know, my husband loves me a ridiculous amount. I am so, so, so blessed to be the wife of a handsome, strong, hard-working, God-fearing man. :D

13. He's planning a birthday party for me this weekend, and in the midst of it, he's working, remodeling our kitchen, and he took me out for a whirlwind birthday weekend in Dallas.

14. I LOVE that man.

15. We spend a lot of time together- I would guess more than the usual married couple. We hate being apart.

16. We've been together for almost 13 years. He took me to my senior banquet:


17. 10:17 is my favorite time of the day. Is your birthday your favorite time of the day too, or is that weird? haha!

18. I've fallen in love with Sonic ice. I can't get enough of it. A big 44 ounce cup of ice water makes me happy.

19. Did I tell you we were crazy? We're remodeling our kitchen {see #13}. Right now it looks like this:


20. And no lie, this is pretty good considering what it has looked like for the past week. We have a party at our house on Friday. :D

21. My finger still hurts, but I can't stop using it to type. What would I do without a pinky?

22. I tried a caramel skinny latte today for the first time. I found I actually prefer regular coffee.

23. That sweet man {see #12} has arrived to take me to lunch. So the last 7 will have to wait until tomorrow :D I'm off to enjoy my birthday! :D
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