Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stream of Consciousness... Read at your own Risk!

I got home from work this evening, inhaled a bowl of Panda Puffs, and laid down on the floor in the office. Silence. Yes, I have homework to do, but I have nowhere to BE until tomorrow morning. How has it been a week since I had time to just sit down and think!?

So... I'm thinking:

-When we were little, sometimes my mom would let us pick out a 'gimme' at the grocery store. AKA a treat that would not normally be approved of. Often candy, Pop Tarts, or a sugary cereal. I've started instituting a similar rule, but I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach this week and somehow ended up with 3 'gimmes.' And I've eaten through half of them in the last 24 hours. Oops.

We'll pretend that because they are gluten free Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, they're healthier than Cap'n Crunch.
-I made my triumphant return to church on Sunday and didn't even blog about it! Why not? Because I forgot how ridiculous it is to transition from weekends to weekdays. I have worked 5 shifts in 6 days. Oof.

-I actually went to two different churches Sunday. Not realistic in the long run, but I'm making up for lost time, yo.

-One church played a song that means a lot to me, and then I heard it again on the radio on the way home. Think God is trying to press a message into my heart? He is jealous for me. I drift time and time again and he's jealous when I fill my plate with all these 'immediate' concerns and stop focusing on the only Real Thing of importance in my life.

-Last month, I wrote about being hemmed in. A lot of doors were slamming in my face, people were letting me down, and my lofty plans for the future lay shattered around me. I felt trapped, and I tried to claw my way out, until I saw the beauty in it. decisions were presented that I wasn't capable of making, so God made them for me. But the minute I started to rest in that place, life started speeding up. Doors started opening. I started making decisions (and sometimes the wrong ones) again because I had to. Now things are moving at warp speed and my plate is full and I'm so... overwhelmed!

-The other church I went to on Sunday, the sermon was talking about Matthew 28 when Jesus says, "go and make disciples of all nations." Did you know that "disciple" means "a learner, or one who is becoming"? I love it. Jesus doesn't say, make sure you know exactly what's going on and what's happening before you move forward. He doesn't insist that the disciples make sure they're 100% prepared and qualified to do this thing. They don't have to wait until they figure everything out. God gives us permission to GO and figure things out as we're moving forward in His grace! Hesitancy that remains unresolved morphs into paralyzing fear. It's like the pastor was speaking directly to my heart. I'm so glad that when I say, "I'm so lost," God says, "where are you? I'll come get you and we'll find our way together." Amen, right?

-It's been cool and cloudy the past few days. Today as I drove home the ceiling of gray parted and the bright blue sky shone through. I had forgotten it was there. How often do we do that in our own lives? We take things at surface value, and we forget that there's this God's-eye-view looking down saying, there's more here than meets the eye. So much is readily available to you; you just have to remember I'm there, even if you don't see Me. Especially if you don't see Me.

-It's CSA season again!

-I'm going to the Influence Conference in October and I'm psyched. It's going to be like a retreat/workshop with some motivational speakers and women of faith having fun together. Join me!

-Ever since Hawaii, I've been able to drink coffee black.

-I'm thinking about this post. Still. Because don't we all know in our heart of hearts that balance isn't the answer?

-Finally, 50 Shades of Gray makes me uncomfortable for so many reasons. Here are two great posts about the trilogy. I couldn't have said it better myself!

How's that for a week's worth of thoughts? What's been on your heart and mind this week?

Okay, enough of the thinking. Time to buckle down and get some homework done! Wait. What?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Discipline as a Disciple

So... I'm learning that many "gung-ho Christians" (myself included) don't always practice what they preach. Do you put God first? Are you authentic? Do you make plans and ask Him to bless them, or do you ask Him to reveal His plans for your life and pray for the strength to carry them out? Are you totally lost when I ask these questions? I am, sometimes. And God graciously hammers it in, time and time again: Christianity is not a feeling. It's a verb.

The Christian life starts with the Bible. Anything else is an imitation and can easily be led astray. And how do we stay in the Word? Discipline, my friends. It's not easy. It doesn't always feel good. It's almost never convenient in our busy lives. Isn't that the point?! As my friend Andrew says, Christian life is like endurance training. Not every workout is euphoric, and not every workout is a struggle to overcome. Some of them just are. And skipping those workouts is absolutely detrimental because they are the very foundation of your training. Time spent in the Word is the same way. Some days I will just read. But when I'm faithful in those times, God is planting things in my heart even if I don't realize it. And those very scriptures I read during the blah times could be preparing me to live well in future moments.

Lest you think I'm being preachy, I will be the first to admit that my own spiritual discipline is spotty at best. The stubborn moments when I live for myself and not for God still come. Nearly weekly, sometimes daily. But by the grace of God, those times are shorter-lived before I run back to God. I'm so thankful that He takes my ever-wandering heart back, time and time again.

{Today's blog post brought to you by 2 Peter 1:3-10}

2 Peter 1:3-10 Google image search

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Life Lately

You can probably tell my the reduced post volume and content that my grad school summer session has begun. Nursing Theory, here I come!

Lots has been happening, although I haven't taken the time to document it all.

1.) I got my first ever Nurse's Week card in the mail a few weeks ago and I was completely flattered. It brightened my whole day!

2.) I took a whirlwind trip to Omaha this past Wednesday through Friday. It wasn't much, but I got to see a few people, including my baby brother fresh from his first year of college. And I got to sit by my parent's pool, which is always heavenly. Thursday was a whirlwind: I went to Mass with my mom and ran into the woman I used to nanny for. I was ooh-ing and awe-ing over her newest arrival and she invited my mom and I over for tea. They live across the street from the church, which is awesome. Why this is the only picture I have from my trip, I do not know. My mom isn't even in the picture, just the family's oldest daughter and youngest daughter and their Mama, who is a huge role model of mine

After that, my mom and I picked up my Grandma Ginny and visited my brother Daniel at work. He works at a pawn shop (although I think that job is about to be past-tense in lieu of law school) and my grandma got a huge kick out of talking to him about how things work there. Then we hit up Ella's in Benson for lunch, and drove by the house my brothers are buying with my parents. In the evening, I made tofu for the familia and everyone ate it obligingly :o) I ended the night with Body Pump at the gym with my dad- such a good sport going with me because I knows I love it. Thursday morning, I hung out with my mom a bit more and had to leave all-too-soon. I did get to drive back to KC with my Grandma Ginny, though, which meant I had political debates and stories of my dad's childhood to entertain me for 3 hours.

3.) My last weekend option shift is fast approaching. In fact, I already worked my last full weekend and this Saturday is my last "weekend premium" day. It's bittersweet, but I know it's the right decision. Don't get me wrong, I will still be working 2 out of every 6 weekends, but I'll no longer get paid extra for it. What I've learned: a.) I LOVE predictability. b.) Spreading three 12s out over 7 days is much less painful than cramming them into a 4-5 day period. c.) Did I mention that I love having a predictable schedule? d.) The money was nice, but it was humbling to realize that with the weekend bonus, my pay was at the top of the pay scale for RNs at my hospital. The money I've made over the last 6 months is the most money I'll ever forseeably make. It was not impressive. e.) I miss church a heckofalot more than I expected to. So. There's that. But don't you fear, I will still have a work schedule to complain about because I volunteered to help out with short-staffed night shifts for the last two weeks of June. GULP.

4.) I have purposely let my baking supplies dwindle in an effort to comfort-bake less. This means I am out of baking powder, baking soda, sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips. Shockingly, this has only slightly cramped my style and it forces me to be more creative.

5.) The sunshine has been stunning lately and it's been gorgeous out! Dare I say it but the humidity hasn't been too bad yet which is even better.

6.) I zoned out doing clean-and-presses at the gym yesterday and totally smashed the bar on my nose. I'm praying I didn't break it or re-deviate my septum less than 3 months post-op. Gah.

7.) I'm ridiculously proud of my "virgin" hair. I used to get highlights in college, but that got too expensive and it was damaging my already coarse hair, so I stopped. Last fall, my hairdresser finally chopped off the last remnants of artificial color, and I was proud to be 100% natural. But looking at the above picture from this week, it looks 100% blah instead. Help!

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, May 21, 2012

First Harvest

If you want to start a garden but are unsure of how to do so, start with lettuce seedlings. Plant them mid-April ('round these parts, at least), water often, and expose to sun. They grow quickly and it's so gratifying to know that fresh salad is yours for the picking.

Today's lunch was based off of my container garden full of lettuce. I cut off about 3 small bunches, rinsed them off, and topped it with Bragg's Hawaiian salad dressing and Cassie's Asian Tuna Salad (made with 1/4 of an avocado instead of mayo).

So delicious. Thank you, sunshine!

P.S. I was talking about baby names with a parent at work the other day and I was inclined to look my own up. The most basic meaning of "Therese" is "harvest" or "summer." Perfect!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Skin Deep

I often find myself wanting to crawl out of my own skin. In uncomfortable times, I practically do so. I'm super fidgety, I pick at scabs and pimples, I pull my hair. I'm 27 going on 4. So when I read this, it gave me goosebumps.

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

"Then the lion said--I don't know how it spoke--You will have to let me undress you.
I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you,
but I was pretty near desperate now.
So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had 
gone right into my heart.
And when he began pulling the skin off,
it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.
The only thing that made me able to bear it
was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.
You know--if you've ever picked a scab of a sore place.
It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see if coming away.
I know exactly what you mean, said Edmund.
Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off--
just as I thought I had done it myself the other three times,
only they hadn't hurt--
and there it was lying on the grass:
only ever so much thicker and darker,
and more knobbly looking than the others had been.
And I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch
 and smaller than I had been.
Then he caught hold of me--
I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath 
now that I'd no skin on--
and threw me into the water.
It smarted like anything, but only for a moment.
After that it became perfectly delicious 
and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found 
that all the pain had gone from my arm.
And then I saw why.
I'd turned into a boy again."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I'm learning that "knowing" the Bible stories is not a "once upon a time" sort of thing. The inspired words of God in the Bible can mean something different in every circumstance. I'm reading the Psalms right now and it's so fun to recognize some of my favorite worship songs in these ancient words. It makes sense, though. Psalms are sacred songs or hymns. They're meant to be sung. It's only right that artists translate them into music that reaches more people today. It's so fun to read words in my Bible and realize that when a certain song is stuck in my head, it's echoing a deeper meaning. If I had a musical bone in my body, there are several Psalms I'd love to base a song off of. Anyway, here's what I read today:

Psalm 24:3-6
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Give us Clean Hands
We bow our hearts
We bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh God let this be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thanks, Mom {and Grandmas}

But seriously. I'm sad I couldn't celebrate with my mom and my grandmothers this Mother's Day. I love you all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bubbling Over

A friend of mine (I can call you my friend now, right Jami?) wrote a great post about balance last week. The premise of the post was actually that balance is a false precept. It's not possible. In fact, it's not even desirable. I recommend reading her post, but the premise is this: Could it be that, 'how do I find balance' is the wrong question? Instead, we should be asking, 'how can I be obedient to Christ today and in this season of my life?'

I'm tempted to listen to the world: strive after a balance! Put your hope there!

But as Jami says, "this thought process will take your eyes off God and will disappoint you terribly.
instead, come to the Lord and submit your plans of what you thought your day/life/situation would look like in this moment and ask God how you can be obedient. Better yet, admit that you don't know what you're doing and you need direction."

AMEN, sister! This echos what I've been journaling about lately. I'm so anxious about what the future holds, and I find peace when I earnestly ask God every morning, "What does trusting you look like today?" Some days I have answers. Some days I don't. Some days I'm frustrated because I'm still waiting for answers to very specific questions! I'm slowly learning that the question isn't, "how can I find happiness in this life and what do I want to do when I grow up?" Rather, "God, what do you want me to be doing in your Kingdom today? How can my life line up with your will?"

Ross has been frustrated with his priorities lately. He used a great analogy the other day, and I'm going to steal it. He said he has been feeling like a cup of water. He pours some water into my cup, he pours some water into a friend's cup, he pours some water into his parent's cups, he pours some water into God's cup, pours some into his grad school cup, etc. But then he realizes, oh, wait, my cup is getting empty! And he grabs some water back from all of those cups. Then he realizes he needs to give some water back to his wife, so he pours water into my cup. Then he realizes that he needs to go to God first, so he pours that water from my cup into God's cup. It's a constant juggling act! Sounds exhausting, no? Run here, run there. Sprint! Back and forth. I'm guessing it also feels really familiar.

But I was relieved when I heard him say that. It explained why I have been feeling tossed around lately. And it was very humbling to hear him say that he needs to go to God first. As his wife, of course I want him to turn to God first and foremost (1 Corintians 11:3). But on a day-to-day basis, it's very easy to be selfish and say, "fill my cup first! I'm your wife for crying out loud." When really, I need to be filling my own cup with... you guessed it... living water from Christ as well. Not relying on my husband to do it for me.

When Ross told him about the cup analogy, our pastor took it one step further. I love this. He basically said, if you keep your cup under the running tap of God's mercy, you will have more than enough to fill your cup and to overflow into the others as well, without robbing from your own.

Ah-mazing. Sometimes we make things so much harder than they need to be!

So if I haven't confused you with too many mixed metaphors here, I'll close with Jami's statement:
Perfect balance is an illusion that takes our eyes away from the one who supernaturally provides for our needs perfectly in each moment-- when we look to him. Only in obedience will you find what you're looking for. Christ is sufficient.

Find your Hope in Him. and then receive peace and joy wherever you are.

Damn, that's good news.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Drunken Tofu

So... lots of heavy posts lately. Thanks for sticking with me. I process through writing, and I'd love to continue the conversation through comments or e-mails if something sparks your interest!

But today I'm' going to share a healthy dinner recipe I came up with the other night. I named it Drunken Tofu. Not because it has alcohol in it, but because I want to drink this sauce!

1 brick of tofu, pressed and sliced
1/2 can coconut milk (I used low-fat)
1 Tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
1-3 tsp siracha
1 cup broccoli (I just poured frozen broccoli straight from the bag into the baking dish)

Pour the coconut milk, soy sauce, and siracha into a dutch oven or small baking dish (a pie pan would probably work) and mix with a fork. Add the tofu and broccoli and mix until coated. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Makes enough for 4 people when served over rice.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Patience in a Vacuum

 Hope that is seen is no hope at all. 
Who hopes for what they already have?  
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, 
we wait for it patiently. In the same way, 
the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
We do not know what we ought to pray for
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us 
through wordless groans.  
And He Who Searches Our Hearts 
knows the mind of the Spirit, 
because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people 
in accordance with the will of God.  
And we know that in all things God works 
for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:24-28

The need for patience is so much easier for me to see in others than myself. My newlywed co-workers are in a rush to buy houses and have babies. Just wait, establish your marriage first! Then let God make it fruitful in whatever way He sees fit. To those who are still single: God is calling you to an intimate relationship with Him. He is jealous of your distractions. 

But I see the log in my own eye, now, as well.

We all want something we don't yet have, but we name it: once I have this and that and those, I will be happy. I will find God when my relationship with that person is repaired. When this physical need is met. When my financial struggle is over. *Insert your own burden here* The older I get, the more I'm starting to realize: life never falls perfectly into place. But when our mindset is in the right place (hope in God and in nothing else), that doesn't matter so much.

I don't know what I'm supposed to be praying for right now. It's a struggle. I'm learning to let go (and sometimes failing spectacularly) but I can only hope that I'm strengthening my prayer muscles. I'm wrestling with the fact that even when I let go, I'm sometimes doing it in an immature way. I want to prove to God that I'm "all in" so I surrender, but I expect an immediate reward. My eyes are seeing my heart's vanity, and it is ugly.

Ever since we moved here, I've been somewhat depressed about this "holding pattern" we're in. Everything has felt futile, like wasted time. But oh, to have those days back and use them wisely! To seek first the kingdom of God, instead of finding it last when all other roads to "happiness" and "fulfillment" have failed me.

Instead, I thank God that it's now instead of never. He has waited patiently (so patiently) for me. In return, I realize that this void is not a vacuum at all (Psalm 62: 1-2). In fact, it's the beautiful space God has been holding open for me despite my struggles to fill it with temporal things. I am but a cracked, ugly, worthless jar of clay and God wants to fill me with beauty (2 Corinthians 4:7)? He's been refusing fulfillment from any other source not to frustrate me, but to truly fulfill me, and to truly, undoubtedly, glorify Him.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. 

God is saying, the world can't touch this part of you, and I promise that's actually a good thing. I wanted you to save it for me. And now this tiny spot in your heart can grow and fill the space that rightfully belongs to me. I want to fill your vessel with living water, so you will never be so thirsty again.

How wonderful is it to realize that God does know what my future holds? And it's a far better future than I could have fathomed. This vacuum is not a vacuum, but (if I may be so cliche) a God-shaped hole in my heart. And I need to wait patiently for him to fill it properly in His sweet time so that I can enjoy the life He has planned for me, because it's sure to be far better than the life I've tried to build for myself.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. (And patience begets strength begets patience begets strength... all from God.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Treats

Happy May Day! When we were growing up, I remember filling berry baskets with Easter grass and little treats, running up to our neighbors' porches, leaving a basket, ringing the bell, and running away. It was our May Day tradition. Thanks for the memories, Mom! In honor of this sweet day, I have two treats to share:

1.)  This recipe is straight from the May Fitness magazine, but I had to share. I've made 'breakfast cookies' before, but they've contained far more sugar and chocolate than I would normally include in my morning meal. I've made baked oatmeal as well, but it's always more eggy and spongy than I'd like.

This recipe combines the virtues of both: it's as wholesome and low-sugar as a bowl of oats, but it has the portability of a cookie. I will probably stick with my oatmeal most morning, but two or three of these cookies with a smear of peanut butter will be great in a hurry. More likely than not, though, these will serve as my bedtime snack since I can't keep sneaking chocolate chips from the freezer any more!

Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

1 cup of oat flour (simply process 1 cup of oats in a food processor until a fine powder forms)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 banana
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbs ground flaxseed or chia seeds
2 Tbs chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp honey
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and place on greased baking sheet in golf ball-sized scoops. Bake for 11-14 minutes. Makes 18 cookies.

2.) Congrats to Katie! According to the random number generator, you won last week's scripture print drawing. Head over to the Naptime Diaries Etsy shop and shoot me an e-mail with which print you'd like. I wish I could buy one for everyone, but keep an eye on this shop and blog because she will offer discounts once a month or so.

Happy May Day!