Monthly Archives: March 2010

Holiness, Holiness is What I Long For…

1 Peter 1:15-16

“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God–who chose you to be His children–is holy. For He Himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

I have a passion for living a holy life.  I give it my all everyday to do the things God has required of me and to stay away from the things I know are not pleasing to God. I have been called legalistic. I have been called “holier than thou.” But, at the end of the day, I only have to answer to One person, and that is the Lord, Jesus Christ, so as long as I feel that I please Him, it is worth it. I am called to be set apart for His purposes, not my own, not my family’s, not my friends’.

Holiness is a commandment from the Lord. It is not a request or a suggestion. If we say that He is LORD, then we must obey His commandments. It hurts me to see Christians living lives that are contrary to what God requires of us. God commands holiness for our protection, for our good, He knows best.

I fail all the time. I make mistakes and the Holy Spirit convicts me. We are all sinners, saved by grace, but we should never take advantage of God’s grace. In Romans 6:1-2, Paul asks, ” What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” He answers his own question with an emphatic,  “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer in it?”

I think that since  1 Peter, tells us, “…now you must be holy in everything you do”, we need to take a look at the “everything” in our lives. Here are a few areas that come to mind for my life:

  • My conversations (Am I gossiping? Am I speaking kind words of encouragement or harsh words of criticism to my poor husband who has worked 14 hours and is exhausted?)
  • My thoughts (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. Phil 4:8)
  • My actions (towards my husband, family, friends and those I come in contact with, whether on a daily basis or when I am out-and-about during my day)
  • My choice in friends (Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Cor. 15:33 – am I pointing my unsaved friends to Christ, or acting just like them because I fear their ridicule or rejection?)
  • How I dress (Do I consider my dress worship to the Lord?)
  • How I spend my time (Turn off the TV!!!!!!!!! Spend some time with the Lord!)
  • The media I take in 

We will have to take a side note for this one! Most of you who know me know that this is a HUGE thing for me. This may step on some toes, but I feel it needs to be said. What kind of things are portrayed in PG13 and R rated (and even some PG rated) movies, most primetime TV shows or most pop music?  Profanity, sexuality, nudity, strong violence, horror, the Lord’s Name taken in vain. Some may say when they are telling me about a “great” new movie or show, “It’s not THAT bad.” Argh! That turns my stomach! Some people say that they can watch some of the things I listed above and it doesn’t affect them. I heard a really great analogy about letting even a little sin into our thoughts and hearts.

A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The con’s were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said), and you actually did not “see” the couple in the movie having sex – it was just implied sex, off camera.
The pros were that it was a popular movie – a block buster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of the members of their Christian church had even seen the movie and said it wasn’t “very bad”. Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.
 
The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.
 
The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.
 
The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.
 
The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well – they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a “little bit of crap” and not be effected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with “just a little bit of smut” and not be effected. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces.
 
Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, “Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?”
Author Unknown
 
So, this is a funny little story. I have heard pastors tell it from the pulpit and everyone chuckles. I personally think it is one of the most powerful stories about Christians and media I have ever heard.
 
I long to be holy because I love the Lord so much. He gave up his life for me on a cross, so that I would be able to live in freedom, never fearing death.  He not only saved me from hell, but he cleansed me from all unrighteousness!! I can cry out to Him every moment of every day and He will be there to encourage me, counsel me, comfort me. I owe Him my life. And I intend to give it to Him, whether it is comfortable for me or not, whether I “miss out” on things, whether people (even Christians) say I am too conservative,  or whether I understand what He is doing in my life or not. He is my LORD and I will obey Him.
 
I pray this blog entry has prompted you to look at the “everything” of your life and ask the Holy Spirit to examine it. May this be our daily prayer – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
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Misadventure with Macaroons – With Pictures!

I was on the Weight Watcher’s website this morning looking for some dinner ideas and I came across a recipe for Chocolate Dipped Macaroons. They looked absolutely amazing and only 2 point per Macaroon.

I have never made them before, but the recipe looked easy enough so I decided to give it a try and share it with you. As you will see below, the process didn’t go as planned. When I realized this was going to be a disaster, I contemplated whether to post it or not. I ended up thinking, “Why NOT? At least people will be entertained!” So, below is my Misadventure with Macaroons!

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites (I had extra-large eggs…I think this is where I went wrong!)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups packaged shredded coconut
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. (All I had was waxed paper…could this be another reason for the problems??)

2.  In a large bowl, whisk egg whites with sugar. Add vanilla and coconut; stir to combine. (At this point, everything looked fine and dandy.)

 

3. Scoop up a level tablespoons of batter and place about 1-inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. (The mixture seemed a little runny to me, but since I had never made them before, I kept going.)

 4. Bake until tops just start to turn light tan, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove cookies to a cooling rack for about 30 minutes. (This is where it takes a turn for the worst! I put the macaroons into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. My oven doesn’t bake evenly so my plan was to turn the cookie sheet after the 10 minutes were up. I checked on the macaroons and they had turned into little coconut pancakes and smoke was billowing out of the oven. I closed the oven door and left them to finish up doing what ever they were going to do! After the 18 minutes were up, I scraped the cookies off of the waxed paper and put them on a cooking rack. They seemed a little sticky, but I decided to press on! I put them in the fridge to cool. ) 

 After about 10 minutes, I checked on the macaroons. They were falling apart! I decided to try and save them! I took each cookie off the cooking rack and smashed them into little balls, hoping this would hold them together and I put them back into the fridge.

 5. Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 60 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds. (I have mastered melting chocolate, so no problems here!)

6. Dip tops of cookies into chocolate. (I tried…I really did, but the cookies kept falling apart! I ended up spooning some chocolate on the cookies, this worked pretty well.) Place dipped cookies on a metal tray evenly spread apart so they’re not touching; refrigerate until chocolate sets, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

I left the cookies in the fridge for 20 minutes, then peeled the poor things off of the waxed paper and put them on a plate for presentation. They tasted amazing!! The road was rocky and the journey a little discouraging at times, but we made it! The Chocolate Dipped Macaroons ended up being beautiful and delicious!! So……you might not want to try this recipe, or maybe you do! Good luck!

Modest Fashionista??

Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner and as the days get hotter, the clothes get smaller and tighter. How can we as Christian women balance looking cute in the summer with being modest as the Lord calls us to be??  Here is my list of  summer essentials for Christian women.

1. Summer dresses – I love floral and solid dresses in the summer. I am not big on wearing shorts, so dresses are a good option for me. I have found really great dresses at Old Navy and Target. I am only 5’2″ so I don’t usually have a problem with dresses being too short, but if you are taller and the “short” dresses are too short on you, the Maxi dress is really hot right now! One thing you have to look out for with any style is the neckline! Most dresses I have found have a V-Neckline, most of them are deep V’s. This brings me to my next Summer essential!

 

 

 2. Cami’s – I probably have 20 different cami’s. I try to have one in every color under the rainbow! There are a few option when it comes to cami’s. I really like the solid ones- very plain, and my sister really likes the ones with lace – a little more interesting. Sometimes the necklines are even low on the cami’s so you have to try them on and lean over in the dressing room to make sure no cleavage is showing. Most cami’s have a built in shelf bra and adjustable straps. As soon as I get home, I cut out the bra. The bra tends to give me more cleavage and since that’s definitely not the look I am going for, the bra has got to go! When the bra is gone, the straps can be adjusted to bring the neck line up a little higher; if you leave the bra in and tighten the straps, you just get more cleavage, not more coverage.  I get most of my cami’s at Kohl’s in the Jr.’s Department. They are no more that $10 and usually on sale for $6 or $7. For that price, stock up on every color!  These are great to wear under dresses and any V-neck tops in the summer.

 

3. Sleeveless Tops – These are great because you get that summery feeling without the spaghetti straps. Hanging out at home on the weekend, I don’t usually mind spaghetti straps, but out in public, I like a little more coverage. Here are a couple I thought were really cute!

 

 

4. Summer Skirts – I love wearing skirts in the summer. As I said before, I don’t wear shorts that often, so skirts are a great alternative. Skirts make you feel more feminine and pretty. If you have full hips, try to find a skirt that skims the hips but that doesn’t poof out too much! A-line skirts are my absolute favorite style. The most flattering length of skirt is right above or right below the knee. I wear both, but I mostly right above the knee. Because I am short, some skirts hit me mid-calf and I automatically look shorter. If you have some height, mid-calf or even ankle length will work for you.

 

4. Shorts – Ok, so like I said before, I don’t really wear shorts. I have chubby legs and cellulite and it’s just not a pretty picture! When I do wear shorts I wear the knee-length ones or capris. I know that the last few summer season, long shorts have really been popular. A couple of years ago, I remember seeing that long shorts were “in” and I thought, “Praise the Lord! Shorts for normal women!!!” Two of my favorite pairs of shorts came from Target. They were less than $20 and they fit really well. My favorite capris are from Kohl’s. A word of advice, if you are going to wear long shorts, make sure you buy them from the women’s department and not the men’s. The will fit your curves and you won’t look masculine in them. Because the long shorts can look a bit masculine, pair them with a floaty, floral top – instant femininity!

 

 

5. Bathing Suit – ok, so here is the trickiest one of the bunch! Every girl needs something to swim in or to lay out in (make sure you apply the sun screen!!). Most bathing suits are really skimpy, but in the past few years, they have come out with some good alternative styles. The tankini is popular and boyshorts are a good option. This year I am looking for a one piece that doesn’t look like something my great-aunt would wear. Marshalls has some really cute suits for about $20. The ones I saw retail for $60 -$80 – now that’s a great deal!  Below are some suits I really liked.

 

 

 

6. “Sun-kissed” Skin – We all know the dangers of too much sun exposure, but we all want to have that summer glow. So, what’s a girl to do? Fake it! I have tried so many sunless tanners, most smell awful or leave your streaky and orange. I have found two products that work well. The first is Jergen’s Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. As the name implies, you apply the lotion daily, and it gradually give you a tan. The smell bothers me a little, but I have friends that don’t mind it at all. The second moisturizer is Avon’s Skin so Soft Satin Glow Body Moisturizer. I use it 3-4 times a week and it has given me a nice gradual tan. The smell is nice and the lotion has a little shimmer in it.

 

 7. Accessories – Ok, I have to admit, I am accessories challenged. I am lucky if I get my watch and wedding rings on in the morning. My sister, on the other hand, is an expert. She always looks great! I have to admit accessories really finish off an outfit so this summer I am going to try and accesorize more. Here are some cute pieces!

 

 So, there you go! These are all the things I think are essential for a modest, super cute woman of the Lord needs for the Summer. Being modest can be a challenge not only because we live in a world where all the clothes seem mini, but also because of our flesh. We know our bodies and how we present them can have a huge power over men, and it is a temptation to try to get attention through what we wear, but let’s dress in such a way that people remember our smile and our Just-been-with-Jesus glow!

 

 

Fact Labels and Fateful Meanings

I am currently going through a Bible study book at Calvary Chapel in Moreno Valley entitled Me, Myself and Lies, by Jennifer Rothschild.

In today’s work book lesson, I was challenged to examine the Fact Labels I wear. We all have labels that we wear that we either have  placed on ourselves or that others have placed on us.  For me, the biggest fact label that I wear is: DISABLED. This is a fact. The doctors labeled me disabled about 8 years ago; the pain I experience every day reminds me of that label. In our book, Jennifer says that sometimes we assign a fateful meaning to our fact labels. The fateful meanings I assign to this fact label of disabled are weak, incapable, defeated.  I had to ask myself if these meanings were truth, or fallacy that I had convinced myself of through the many years of speaking untruths to myself in my daily thought life.

It was hard to confront the feelings I have about myself because of my disability. There are days when I feel weak. There are other days when I feel incapable. There are many days when I feel defeated. But these feelings are not truths, they are just feelings.

I decided to find verses that combat the fateful meanings I assign to myself. verses that speak truth about my fact label.

Fate: Weak

Truth:

  • Psalm 73:26 – My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
  • Isaiah 40:31 – But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

Fate: Incapable

Truth:

  • Philippians 4:13 – For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
  • John 14:16 – And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.

 

Fate: Defeated

Truth:

  • Romans 8:37 – No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
  • 1 John 5:4 – For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.

Oh, how these verses speak truth to my heart! As I read them I feel the power of the Holy Spirit and the comfort of our loving Father wash over me like a steaming hot shower after a long hard day!!!  My body may not function correctly all the time, but my God is bigger than my disability! In Christ, I am not weak, I am strong! I am not incapable, I have the Holy Spirit as a helper! I am not defeated, I have overwhelming victory!

What fateful meanings have you assigned to your fact labels? I challenge you to find the verses that counteract the lies of the devil. Let them speak truth into your heart today!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I have to start out by telling you how amazing my husband is. For my birthday this year I asked him for a special present. I wanted him to do something that made me feel special and important…I didn’t give him any more details than that. I have to admit I was a little nervous about leaving it all up to him. I usually tell him exactly what I want or I just buy it myself.   Besides the special birthday request, I wanted new bedding and some new pots and pans- which I picked up at Target and Kohl’s at the end of February. 🙂

I had no idea what my husband’s birthday surprise was going to be. I kept reminding him about it and he finally told me that he had it covered. I was mildly comforted….On the Wednesday night before my birthday, on the way home from worship practice, he told me what the surprise was. He had emailed everyone in my email address book and told them that since sending hand written notes was so important to me, (many of you have probably been the recipient of my important little hobby), he asked everyone to send me a hand written note for my birthday! Then he pulled out two envelopes from his jacket pocket. Below are the first two notes I received. 

 

They were from our friends’ son, Seth and daughter, Grace. The first picture from Seth is a family portrait of Mike, me and our cat, Snickers. The second, from Grace,  is a picture of Grace and I. Grace’s note reads “Dear Ms. Stacy thank you Ms. Stacy for taking me to fun places. From Grace.” How incredibly special! I couldn’t help but cry!

In the next 3 days I received a total of 20 cards and hand written notes. Every one of them made me cry! My husband got it so right! This is exactly the kind of thing that would make me feel special and important! Everyone’s words were so kind and encouraging. Those of you who sent me cards, expect a thank you in the mail soon! 🙂

For my birthday celebration, I wanted to have family and a couple of friends over at my mom’s house for dinner and I asked my mom to make pot roast and a chocolate chocolate chocolate cake! She did NOT disappoint! The dinner, cake and fellowship were so wonderful! We ate dinner, I opened my many gifts, had cake and ice cream, and watched the Discovery Channel’s documentary Planet Earth on my brother’s new Blu Ray player. It was such an amazing night!

The next morning, I got up and took a pregnancy test – I could have taken it on my actual birthday, but decided I would wait another day. I didn’t want a negative result to ruin my birthday. The result was indeed negative. I spent most of the morning crying as I got ready to go to church. The high of celebrating my birthday crashed and I felt so conflicted. I felt so blessed that my husband, family and friends went out of their way to make me feel special, but I also felt like my heart was breaking. This was another birthday with no children. After church we went to a BBQ at my mom’s house because we had some out-of-state family visiting. It turned into a big thing, with more than 30 people! I was happy to see everyone, but in the last year, 3 of my cousins have had new babies…I have to say it was incredibly hard to see them all living what is my biggest dream.

I knew I needed to blog, but every time I sat down at the computer to write, I froze. I wanted to celebrate the wonderful things that happened, but I did not want to ignore the sorrow I was feeling from the negative pregnancy test. This morning I finally felt like I could write about my birthday weekend – the joy I felt being with my wonderful friends and family, the sweet words of my friends – hand written and sent in the mail, the great food and gifts, but also the other side of my birthday coin – the pain of another year childless, the heavy feeling in my chest when I held my cousin’s new baby boy, the longing I had when I played on the floor with my other cousin’s new daughter.

I can tell you that I don’t understand what God is doing, and I am not sure in this life I ever will, but I do know that He will never leave me and that He celebrates with me when I have joy and He holds me close when I feel pain- and this morning, that’s enough for me.

My Favorite Veggie Side Dish Recipe- With Pictures!

Here is the recipe (with pictures) for my favorite veggie side dish.  It was originally a recipe from Tyler Florence on Tyler’s Ultimate on Food Network. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly. It was SO good! Unfortunately, it called for 5 tablespoons of oil! My recipe is modified for our healthy lifestyle.  The original recipe is 183 calories and 15 grams of fat per serving and my recipe is 120 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving. My recipes tasted just as yummy doesn’t leave you feeling guilty! So…here you go!

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Almonds   

Ingredients:    

    

  • 16 oz. frozen green beans
  • 1/2 cup skin on sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 3 large or 4 medium onions (I used brown ones and  added an extra onion because we LOVE them!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Directions:   

1. Peel and thinly slice the onion. (They can be killer on your eyes!!  If you refrigerate them for a while before slicing it helps.)   

   

2. Heat the oil and butter in a large (12-14 inch) pan.   

3. Add sliced onion to the pan; stirring often until golden brown (about 20 minutes) Below is the process.   

Just put in the pan
5 min. into cooking
15 min. into cooking
20 min. into cooking - PERFECT!

As you can see, the onions reduce quite a bit!   

4. Meanwhile, cook the frozen green beans according to the package. I used the stove top directions on the bag which was to bring 1/2 cup water to a boil, add green beans, bring back up to a boil, cover and cook on medium/high heat for 7-10 minutes.  

brought back up to a boil, added lid
5. While the green beans and onions are cooking, add the almonds to a small dry frying pan. Toast almonds 3-5 minutes stirring frequently. Watch them carefully; they will burn!
untoasted
toasted
6. Meanwhile, remove thyme leaves from the stems. Thyme has a really woody stem that you don’t want to eat; hold the stem and pull the leaves off in the opposite direction that they grow. They will come right off. Chop up the thyme leaves. You want about 2 tablespoons when you are done.
 
  
  
7. Add green beans, thyme and almonds to the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 5 minutes on low then serve. Makes 8 servings. Enjoy!
  
 
Tonight I served this with Creamy Broccoli Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Here is the recipe if you are interested – http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/creamy-broccoli-stuffed-chicken-breasts-105196.aspx

    

Purpose

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is in life? I know that our main purpose as Christians is to glorify God and lead others to Him, but in our every day lives, what are we supposed to be doing? I have heard it said that you need to bloom where you are planted….I have such a hard time with that. Right now I feel stale…not in my relationship with Christ – no, I feel really close to the Lord, but in my everyday life…I think, “What the heck am I supposed to be doing?”

I do my best to take care of my home and my husband, but I feel like I have lost part of myself. I think that feeling comes from being in pain. I know I go back to that in most of my posts, but for me it is a huge reality. Before I was diagnosed with the many diseases and syndromes I have, I had great BIG dreams! I wanted to play basketball in college while I was getting a degree so I could teach English Literature. I wanted to write and publish a book.  I also would have loved to be a hair dresser or work in the medical field. I even went to school for that. I couldn’t finish because I had my second back surgery that permanently disabled me….argh…I hate being so frustrated, but that is exactly how I am feeling! I feel so blessed to be married and have a wonderful husband, but I never thought my life would be spent at home everyday by myself looking for housework to keep me busy…I want to be a mom and raise children who grow up to love God and impact the world for Him; it doesn’t seem like any of those dreams will be a possibility. I wanted to change the world! I wanted to be famous!

How do I translate the dreams of my youth to my life now? I have yet to figure it out. That is the frustrating part. I wish so much that God would heal me. I have prayed and prayed and prayed…..for whatever reason, He has chosen not to. I suppose as I keep seeking the Lord He will show me what I am supposed to be doing with my days, but today, I feel frustrated and sad.