Monday, July 30, 2012

Almond and Jam Thumbrint Cookies

Because obviously, non-triple digit temperatures are a cause for celebration and turning on the oven!

Simple Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup almond butter (I used unsalted)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg or flax egg
1/4 tsp salt
your favorite jam or jelly

Blend the almond butter, brown sugar, egg, and salt. Roll into balls approximately the size of 1 Tbs. Dip fingers into cold water and make an indentation on top of each cookie. Fill indentation with 1/2 tsp jam.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Makes 24 small cookies.

P.S. A thought for the day...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

That Time I Lost the Internet and Gained Perspective

Let me preface this by saying, I know this is a first world problem. But if you're reading this blog post on a computer or, better yet, a smart phone, I would venture to guess that you have first world problems too. Also, this is a long post. You've been warned.

Let's start with my attention span (before I forget to mention it). My brain is all over the place. I sometimes get distracted mid-sentence and have to rely on the person I was talking with to remember what we were even talking about. And if they weren't listening, well, that conversation just fell flat on its face.

Interned does. not. help. my attention span. When I'm at home on a day off, the computer calls to me. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. The apartment is in shambles and there are errands I need to run. Heck, I need to change into clothes after breakfast or my workout. But my mind tells me that I need to check Facebook really quick. Or Google Reader. Or Twitter. Or, I'll just glance at Instagram on my iPod. And then an hour's gone and my heart is getting anxious so I get up and perform a small task. But then 10 minutes later I remember I need to reply to this e-mail, or look up that recipe so I can make it right now because how will I live without it?

During the month of June, a lot of things happened in my heart and I was FINALLY ready to slow down, surrender, and listen. I gave in and responded to something that had been weighing on my heart since last fall. But I knew I didn't have the self-control to do that of my own volition. Believe me, I've tried. So, after a week of fasting from the internet in June, I bit the bullet and called our provider to ask for a "vacation" from internet service in July. They granted my request, and suddenly my computer seemed worthless when it didn't provide me access to the outside world.

And yes, it was frustrating sometimes. This directionally impaired girl suddenly had to *gasp* call someone for directions instead of relying on Google Maps. Ross had to look up phone numbers and addresses and business hours on his phone for me from time to time. I went to the library once a week with a list of "internet to-dos" and spent a good two hours there each time. But when I was done, I was ready to look at something besides a screen. And after shifts at work, it was so nice to come home and be quiet or have real human interaction instead of checking e-mail and blogs reallyquick before bed (often, in fact, delaying my bed time).

It took a good 3 weeks for the dust to settle and for me to reshape my routines, but I LOVED IT. My apartment was cleaner. I coveted less. I spent more time making basic meals and less time making (and eating) desserts. Only in the last week was I able to look around the apartment during my free time, time in which I would normally look to the world wide web for entertainment, and realize instead, "I haven't done my quiet time today. I want to do that right now." I don't even think I realized the magnitude of these changes until suddenly, the distraction was back.

Yesterday, I had just listened to a great sermon on prayer while I tidied up the apartment. When I sat down to look at the other sermons I had on my iPod, I noticed that devious imp, the wireless signal. It popped up on my screen sometime between calling the internet company this morning and coming home this afternoon. I had asked them to re-start service August 1, but they must have done it early (although if they charge me for these few days in July, I am going to throw a fit).

It only took 30 seconds.

Ever so subtly and cleverly, the Devil moved my gaze 6 inches over from the Bible and journal I was just sitting down to spend time with, and my eye caught my laptop instead. I thought, "why not?" Then, Just Like That I had to get on the internet. I had to write a blog post. From the comfort of my home. Just because I could!!!

I hate that. Instantly, a number of thoughts rose to the surface and my heart felt funny and unsettled and anxious. These are those thoughts, so please read them with grace:

When you're a recovering alcoholic, you go cold turkey on the Wild Turkey. When you're addicted to drugs, there's nothing good in "just one little hit" of cocaine. When you've been smoking and realize you need that toxic habit out of your life, you can't just smoke here and there without risking losing complete control.

But so much of life isn't that simple. As our pastor says, life is lived in the gray areas. And as our counselor says, if life isn't a battle, you're not doing it right!

If you're addicted to porn, you absolutely positively need a software blocker on your computer. But it's still super easy for a girl to catch a guy's eye, right? Society doesn't pity the guy trying to avoid looking lustfully at women. Especially not with these record high temperatures going on. Temptation to sin exists everywhere.

When you decide to have a baby, you can't always just have a baby. I'm at the age now where some of my friends are experiencing heartache in this arena. Infertility. Miscarriage. Big, scary, dark words. These words leave people asking, "You mean my plans can't just work the way I want them to, when I want them to? What's wrong with me? Why can't I do this one fundamental thing right? Why does it seem like everyone who doesn't want a baby, gets one? And I don't?" People suffer silently everywhere.

In my journey with eating disorders, I've struggled immensely with the idea that I wish I had been an alcoholic instead of an anorexic. I wish I'd been a smoker instead of a compulsive over-eater. What a warped thing to think! I don't really wish to trade one vice for another that, arguably, might be even harder to overcome. But by thinking these things, I was simply wanting an easy way out. An alcoholic can keep a sip of ETOH from passing their lips, but a food addict can't just not eat. You have to learn moderation. It's a daily challenge. Some days I fare pretty well, but other days I lay down at night and I have to apologize to God because I didn't honor my body and mind in the ways I reacted to things throughout the day. I ate my feelings instead of sitting with them or, better yet, bringing them to my Creator. Instead, I abused creation and went to bed with a stomachache and woke up with a headache. "Cold turkey" is powerful, and that has been strongly reinforced in my life this month. But for all its power, it's not always practical.

Wow, I digress. (See paragraph 2). But truly. Do you know where I'm coming from? Do you have a similar vice in your life that falls into these gray areas? My eyes have finally been opened to the fact that the internet is such a vice for me. Since Ross and I begin grad school again next month, resuming internet service was a necessary evil. I'd be lying if I said I'm not worried about having it back in the house, though. As inconvenient as it was, if Ross and I weren't in school, I would've cancelled internet service altogether and pocketed that $530 a year to put toward a nice vacation instead!

I'm worried I won't be able to practice moderation. I'm worried about the temptation to be all or nothing. And you better believe that this weekend, Ross and I are going to have an honest discussion about my heart in this matter. Prayers and deliberation and discipline will be necessary.

I'm not saying everyone needs to quit the internet. I'm not saying it's practical. I'm only saying I'm so glad I went without it for a month! I've learned that there are so many other things I want to do with this one wild and precious life. I struggle with connecting in person. I struggle with being present. So it's no mystery why I have been happier this month than I have been in a long time.

In the last month, I've read more, I've loved more,  I've laughed more, I've connected more, and I've been outside more than I have been in a long, long time! I arrived places on time or early! My mind has learned to quiet down! For once, while I agree these summer days are passing by too quickly, I'm not anxious that I missed out on them. I lived them. Praise God, I can account for them!

This sounds really silly on the outside. And kind of dramatic. This isn't necessarily a battle I anticipated fighting, but they never are, are they? Wasting time on the internet = wasting my life. (Of note: wasting time on the internet is different than connecting with others and being productive on the internet. It's not all bad!) But I thank God I've seen the light and I don't want to go back to living in darkness, illuminating my life with the computer screen, and comparing myself to everyone's online portrayal of themselves and finding myself wanting. I don't want to spend another minute mindlessly escaping reality while life is waiting to be lived 6 inches away from this screen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Married People Need Photos, Too

I totally stole this title from our photographer, Erica. She took our pictures a week and a half ago and posted a preview on her blog last night.

I can't praise her enough. She's so sweet and humble and efficient. We bussed around town for these images on a Monday night. It was a nice night, so we hoped the pictures would turn out well. But she went above and beyond. I'm not saying I don't have tan lines or a double-chin or a weird expression in every picture, but my goodness. The lighting. The backgrounds. The subtle detail. This girl know what she's doing. Thanks for some priceless photos, Erica!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I'm Loving this Wednesday

1.) This guy.

2.) Running at sunrise.

3.) Body pump. Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn't able to go for two weeks. Going back this morning hurt so good.

4.) Squishy baby cheeks. Taking a new primary patient at work has been good for my heart.

5.) Accupuncture. I've been going for the better part of this year and it's so worth it.

6.) A Lineage of Grace. Kind of like clean historical fiction. Except it's based off of women in the Bible. And it's opened my eyes to the fact that they were real people, too! God always uses brokenness and redemption for His glory.

7.) Instagram. I'm so late to the game, and my iPod touch takes kind of grainy pictures, but I still love sharing them. And looking at everyone else's pictures is like the Facebook without the TMI status updates, whining, and political rants.

8.) Summer Vacation! I'm off for 4 more weeks before the sheer madness of clinical teaching, working, and taking classes begins again. Don't remind me.

9.) Possibilities. Sometimes thinking about the future is like glancing into an alternate universe. Who knows where I'll be in 1 year? Or five years? Teaching science at a grade school or high school? Getting another certification in the maternal/child nursing field? Mission trips? WOOFing?

10.) My balcony garden.

11.) Listening to sermons on my iPod while cleaning the apartment. Why didn't I start doing this sooner?

12.) Summer sunsets.

13.) Farmer's market produce (really, I should just write an ode to summer).

14.) Homemade juice.

15.) The gluten-free, dairy-free dessert menu at Cafe Gratitude. I'm sure my eyes popped out of my head when I realized I could order anything without having my choice come back to bite me later.

16.) Above all of these, I'm so thankful for new eyes to see God's work in my life!

What makes you happy right now?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy 80th Birthday, Grandpa!

So this post is really belated. My maternal grandpa's birthday was in June and his party was last weekend.

We actually drove to Omaha Friday night and watched the Memorial Park fireworks for the first time in 5 years! They were more amazing than I remembered. We were on a hill in the fallout zone which made the display quite interactive-- the ground was littered with shell pieces when we got up after the show!

On Saturday, we helped my amazing mom get ready for my grandpa's party. But we took a break that evening to celebrate my dad's birthday at Lot 2. (By the way, Dad, I think I'm finally old enough to start taking you out for dinner for your birthday instead of you taking us out to dinner. Next year, dinner is on me!) The restaurant was a bit pretentious for a Benson hangout, but the waitress warmed up as the night went on and the food was good, which is really all that matters!

Sunday morning, we ran a few errands and then got down to the business of partying.

I love pool parties at my parent's house.

 And I love my family.

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Wow, time flies when you're rarely at home. My week away from the computer was wonderful but now I'm regretting the two-month "vacation" I requested from our internet provider. My cell phone is over 4 years old and, needless to say, there's nothing "smart" about it. So when I don't have internet I'm so very disconnected. It's humbling, really. And frustrating. To not be able to look up a phone number or mapquest directions or send an e-mail. And then I have all these sticky notes all over reminding me to do this or that next time I have internet access, and it's adding to my already cluttered counters.

I can confidently say that this forced hiatus won't last long. However, I really like not having an online class right now as an excuse to leave my computer on 24/7. Turning it off before bed makes it much less likely that I'm going to jump online first thing in the morning.

Anyway, some things I missed while I was away.

1.) My friend Jami has a photography blog and she's great. They're doing a giveaway and I'd love to win a photoshoot for Ross and me! Casual pictures taken outdoors are by no means a requirement for engagement or marriage, but it's something I was really looking forward to that we never did. So. Check out the giveaway. But don't enter too many times, lest you lower my odds of winning ;-)

2.) Speaking of Jami, she wrote a post on modesty recently (it's called the trouble with looking sexy). After attending a fireworks show this weekend and seeing far too many teenagers and young adults in shortshort shorts and belly/back/you-name-it baring shirts, I wholeheartedly agree. Respect yourself and the men in your life by adding a little modesty to your wardrobe!

3.) My friend Robin nominated me for a little blog award (literally, an award for writers with small and/or new blogs). Once I get the aforementioned internet situation rectified, I'll add the widget. Thanks, Robin!

4.) Words cannot express how much I need a vacation. A real vacation from real life.

5.) Happy birthday to my dearest Dad! Wish I was there to celebrate with you!